HSBC sells its probate division

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Following our blog about Barclays wills, it appears that more and more companies within the banking sector are shutting their doors to will writing in which they appoint themselves as executors.

HSBC recently sent a letter to clients notifying them that they are selling their probate division to another company ‘Simplify’. Clients who wrote their wills with HSBC now need to either:

  • Appoint this new company;

  • Appoint someone else; or

  • Advise HSBC of their new will

On discovering this, the legal community has raised a number of concerns. In more broad terms, there are a several issues to consider for those who have a will appointing their bank as executor. If, as recent instances suggest, this is an on going trend and further banks are likely to withdraw from/transfer this service, it is important to fully explore what it is that you want and, if necessary, investigate alternative options and advice.

  • Consider what is important to you and your loved ones. With a large national bank, your family may not be dealing with anyone local and in fact may end up not even dealing with the bank at all, but alternatively an affiliated company.

  • Affiliated companies may not be as stringently regulated, for example by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. See our Barclays wills article for the impact that proper regulation (or lack of) can have.

  • It should also be noted that such companies usually pay referral fees to the bank which will then be added into the overall costs to you, the client.

The HSBC sale has exposed some of these issues and clients are already approaching solicitors with queries regarding the letter they have received. Our advice remains the same; appoint someone you trust to carry out your wishes. If you need to update your will, instruct a reputable solicitors firm regulated by the SRA to draft it and appoint someone you trust as executor. Even if on your death they prefer a professional firm to do the probate, they can make that decision and retain as much control as they wish at an extremely difficult time for them. If you absolutely do want to appoint a professional executor, appoint one who is regulated (i.e. a solicitors firm) and who doesn’t have costly referral arrangements in place with other companies.

If you have received a letter like this and would like advice, or would just like to discuss your will options in general, get in touch with our experienced and friendly team on 01473 611211 or email