On 10 July 2015 HSBC customers who made wills with HSBC and appointed HSBC as the Executors of their wills received a letter from the bank informing them that the Probate Services business has been sold to an independent legal services company, Simplify Channel Limited (Simplify). The transfer is expected to take place on 30 October 2015 after which point HSBC will no longer offer an executorship service to its customers.
In their letter, HSBC asked its customers to appoint an alternative executor in place of HSBC using pre-prepared codicils. HSBC offered three options to its customers: (1) to appoint Simplify as an executor, (2) to appoint another executor of their choice or (3) to confirm that the will is no longer valid. Simplify are not able to act as executors, in HSBC’s stead, unless they are expressly appointed. HSBC set a deadline of 31 July 2015 within which its customers had to respond to them with their instructions.
The role of an executor is a crucial one as these are the individuals or organisations that have been appointed to carry out the directions of the will and administer the estate. If there is no executor named in the will or if the executor named cannot or does not wish to act, another appointed executor (if any) can step in or, where no other executors are appointed, beneficiaries can apply to administer the estate. Appointing a trust company as your executor can sometimes incur high fees after your death, even if the cost of preparing your will itself is kept to a minimum. You should always consider who is best placed to act as your executor, whether that is a family member, a friend, a professional or a combination.
In the ever evolving business world it is a common occurrence that law firms and other organisations are brought out and merge, wills can be drafted so that the successor of your chosen professional executor can act in their stead without having to be specifically appointed.
We would highly recommend that you obtain legal advice from a reputable firm of solicitors if you appointed a professional executor that no longer exists or if you have made a will with HSBC and would like advice on your current position, or even if your will is a few years old and needs a review. Wills are live documents and should be kept under constant review throughout your life.
Should you wish to make a will or review an existing will please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Hart Brown Trust & Estates team, who would be happy to assist.