HSBC has advised all of its Will customers that they will no longer be offering the service and that they need to leave as customers or sign up with simplify.
In a surprising move HSBC has told its existing will customers they need to appoint new executors as HSBC can no longer act. In typical bank fashion they have also given their loyal customers a deadline to do so and recommended another company to act as executors, Simplify formally known as ITC. Simplify are one of the largest professional executors in the UK and work for many of the larger banks. However, a quick search of the internet reveals high executor and probate fees with poor customer feedback.
Our advice is its probably time to write a new Will if you are a HSBC customer. Whilst amending an existing will may seem like a cheap alternative, professional executors could cost your loved ones thousands in fees. Even if you choose the option to appoint non-professional executors, your will is still going to be held by a company you did not choose and unlike the banks will writers are not regulated.
Final Duties Wills start from just £49.00; we don’t write our company in as professional executors but instead provide free support at the time your loved ones need it.
You can read the full text of the HSBC letter here
HSBC’s Letter to customers
What’s happening? We are transferring our Probate Services to a third party, Simplify.
Do you need to do anything? Yes, we need you to make a decision about your Will and to return the appropriate form or letter to us.
When do you need to do this? By 6 August 2015
We’re transferring our Probate Services to a third-party and we need your instructions
We are contacting you because you made a Will which appoints HSBC Trust Company (UK) Limited (HSBC) as an Executor and we need you to give us your instructions regarding your Will due to the changes we’re making.
After careful consideration, we have made the decision to transfer our probate services business to Simplify Trust Corporation, which is a trading name of Simplify Channel Limited (Simplify). Simplify has a substantial UK probate business with a range of products and services to support the bereaved, and we believe they are well placed to provide support and choice to our customers at a difficult time.
What does this mean for you? With effect from the date on which our probate services business transfers to Simplify (the Transfer Date), which is expected to occur on 30 October 2015, we will no longer offer an executorship service. As you have previously appointed HSBC as an Executor of your Will, we are asking you to appoint an alternative Executor in place of HSBC using one of the documents enclosed in this letter. Although we are transferring our probate business to Simplify, they will not automatically become the new Executor of your Will:
you need to choose one of three options.
What are your options? Option 1: Appoint Simplify as Executor — who can offer a range of probate services, as explained in the enclosed leaflet from Simplify Option 2: Appoint another Executor — either a professional or a personal one Option 3: Confirm your Will is no longer valid — if you have a replacement Will in place
What do you need to do next? These options and the related action you need to take are detailed below: (Please refer to the glossary attached)
Option 1 • Codicil A – Appoint Simplify as Executor: Use this codicil to appoint Simplify to act as Executor in place of HSBC with effect from the Transfer Date. This will ensure your Will is held by Simplify when the HSBC probate services business transfers.
Continued… HSBC Trust Company (UK) Limited,
Option 2 • Codicil B – Appoint another executor: Use this codicil to appoint a company or individual of your choice (other than Simplify) to act as Executor in place of HSBC with effect from the Transfer Date. We will retain your Will (where held) within Safekeeping.
Option 3 • Confirm Will is no longer valid: Please advise us if the Will appointing HSBC is no longer valid (having been replaced or otherwise revoked), and that HSBC is not appointed as Executor of any replacement Will that you have made. We will return your Will to you (where held). Please write to us, using the response envelope provided (see page 4 for further instructions).
Further information about Simplify and their probate options is enclosed with this letter. Please read this information carefully before you make a decision on what to do. You have a number of options, and it is important you choose the right one for your needs. You are not obliged to appoint Simplify but please read all the information before you decide which option is right for you.
Please also note that we have not reviewed or updated your Will in any way as part of this process.
What to do if you have any questions, a Question and Answer document is also enclosed detailing further information regarding the transfer of our probate service business to Simplify and the options available to you. This also explains how to complete the relevant legal documentation and how to advise us if your Will is no longer valid.
Once you have made a decision on what to do, please complete the relevant document and return this in the envelope provided as soon as possible and by 6 August 2015 at the latest. Please ensure you have followed all the instructions for completion before you send your document back.
What happens if you don’t send us your instructions? Should you choose not to appoint Simplify or an alternative Executor before the Transfer Date, no immediate action will be taken by us. However, as HSBC will no longer be offering probate services, we will be unable to deal with your queries with effect from the Transfer Date and would be unable to act as your Executor in the event of your death. We explain the implications of this in the Question and Answer document enclosed with this letter.
Our probate services team will continue to provide any support you may need until the date on which the probate services business is transferred to Simplify. Please rest assured that in the unfortunate event of your death before such date, HSBC would continue as Executor in the usual way, although Simplify would carry out some of our administrative activities on our behalf under our supervision with effect from the Transfer Date.
We’re here to help If you have any questions or would like further information, please call us on 0345 600 1649 (From outside the UK +44 1470 697077) lines are open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays).
Ian A Jones Senior Manager
How to complete the Codicil documents
Before you complete one of the Codicil documents, please ensure you have; • Fully read our letter and the Questions & Answers (Q&As) detailing the changes • Discussed the changes with any relevant parties • Made your decision as to who you wish to act as your Executor and (where applicable) trustee
If any of the documentation mentioned below or the return envelope has been lost or mislaid, please contact us on 0345 600 1649.
In the presence of both witnesses In order to make the document binding, it must be signed by you and two other people to act as the witness to your signature.
Note: The witnesses must be people with no personal interest in the Will (so not anyone who could benefit under the Will in any circumstances, and not the spouse or civil partner of such person)
- Complete the relevant Codicil (please see the details below on how to complete the relevant sections) • Testator (you) signs and enters name in the presence of the witnesses • Complete the date that you are signing the document • Witnesses sign, enter their names and addresses
Please do not make any other amendments to these Codicils other than as detailed below. These documents have been prepared in accordance with applicable legal requirements. If you have any other queries, please contact us on 0345 600 1649.
Where HSBC is currently appointed as a Co-Executor or contingent Executor, you are able to appoint a new Executor in our place (using either Codicil A or Codicil B). This will not impact the appointment of the other Co-Executor who will remain in place.
Codicil A — Appoint Simplify Channel Ltd, trading as Simplify Trust Corporation, (Simplify) as the Executor and remove HSBC Trust Company (UK) Ltd (HSBC). The completion of this Codicil will confirm that upon transfer of HSBC’S probate services business to Simplify, Simplify will become your Executor and the holder of your Will in place of HSBC. Upon receipt this Codicil will be retained with your existing Will (where held by HSBC).
Please complete the relevant fields of this Codicil as follows: This must be in the presence of the two witnesses (see above) • Al Enter the current date per the following example: “IN WITNESS whereof I have hereunto set my hand this [e.g. twenty-second[ day of [e.g. May[ 2015” • A2 Testator to sign • A3 Testator to write full name • B1 Witness 1 to sign • B2 Witness 1 to write full name • B3 Witness 1 to write their full, current address • Cl Witness 2 to sign • C2 Witness 2 to write full name • C3 Witness 2 to write their full, current address
Codicil B Appoint a new company or individual as Executor (not Simplify) and remove HSBC Trust Company (UK) Ltd (HSBC). Completing this Codicil will confirm that, upon transfer of HSBC’s probate services business to Simplify, the new company or individual will become your Executor
Please complete the relevant fields of this codicil as follows: This must be in the presence of the two witnesses (see above) • Action 1: Enter the full name and address of your new Executor (company or individual). This person or company will replace HSBC as your Executor. • Al Enter the current date as per the following example: “IN WITNESS whereof I have hereunto set my hand this [e.g. twenty-second] day of [e.g. May] 2015” • A2 Testator to sign • A3 Testator to write full name • B1 Witness 1 to sign • B2 Witness 1 to write full name • B3 Witness 1 to write their full, current address • Cl Witness 2 to sign • C2 Witness 2 to write full name • C3 Witness 2 to write their full, current address
Upon receipt this Codicil will be retained with your existing Will (where held).
To confirm your Will as no longer valid or out of date – If you believe the Will where HSBC is appointed as Executor is no longer valid or has been replaced and that HSBC is not appointed as Executor of any replacement Will that you have made. Before confirming your Will is invalid ensure you: • Have fully read our letter and these Q&As detailing the changes • Do NOT complete Codicil A or B
Please write to us, using the response envelope provided.
Please write to us quoting the following: Reference: PRCWLI 1423096428
I insert full name of insert full address confirm that my Will appointing HSBC Trust Company (UK) Limited is no longer valid,
Where my Will is held by HSBC please return to me at the above address.
Please sign and date your letter
Questions & Answers
Why has HSBC decided to transfer the probate service? HSBC constantly reviews its services to ensure it is best placed to offer the right support to its customers. An earlier review meant that HSBC’s will writing service ceased from 1st May 2013, meaning that HSBC no longer writes Wills on behalf of customers or allows the appointment of HSBC as Executor. HSBC Trust Company (UK) Ltd continued to act as Executor to the estate when a customer died who had already appointed it. A recent review means that HSBC has since determined that it is no longer best placed to offer the required levels of support for those you leave behind and the decision has been made to transfer our probate services business to Simplify.
Who are Simplify? Simplify Trust Corporation is a trading name of Simplify Channel Limited. Registered office 8 Clifford Street, London W15 2LO. Registered in England and Wales number 8249813. Simplify are a probate specialist, carefully selected by HSBC to receive the transfer of their probate services business. Simplify has a substantial UK probate business, providing a range of services and options which will offer our customers choice in their probate and executorship arrangements. HSBC believes that Simplify are well placed to support our customers at a difficult time Further details on Simplify and the services it provides can be found in a pack included with these Q&As. Alternatively please call them on 0800 856 1442 or visit simplify.co.uk/hsbc-probate for more details.
What does this change mean to me? You need to make a decision. You now need to decide who you would like to act as the new Executor of your Will in place of HSBC.
What will happen to my Will if I decide to appoint Simplify as the new Executor? Your documentation will remain in secure storage where it is already held by HSBC. However, this will be held by Simplify in its capacity as your new Executor. When you die, Simplify will act as Executor where appropriate. If you have any queries about the services offered by Simplify you can contact them on 0800 856 1442,
What will happen to my Will if I decide to appoint an Executor other than Simplify? Once we have received your completed signed Codicil, we will retain this within Safekeeping, along with your Will (where held by HSBC). You do not have to advise the new Executor of this appointment, although we recommend you do so and ensure they have a copy of your Will and the Codicil.
Can a Lasting Power of Attorney sign the relevant Codicil on my behalf? No, in accordance with English law, an attorney is unable to sign a Codicil to update a Will on behalf of a Testator. These cases will be transferred to Simplify under a service agreement and HSBC’s Executorship role will be renounced at death, allowing the beneficiaries to make the decision as to who should administer the Will.
Can anyone else sign the relevant Codicil on my behalf? No, in accordance with English law, the Testator must sign the Codicil. No other parties are able to sign on behalf of the Testator, even where a third-party mandate is held with HSBC or a Lasting Power of Attorney has been granted.
What is the Executor’s role? The Executor is responsible for carrying out the deceased’s wishes and ensuring any outstanding debts are paid by administering the estate. The Executor may need to apply for Grant of Probate or complete relevant tax returns.
Who can I appoint as the Executor? Anyone aged 18 or above can be an Executor of your Will. You can appoint a specialist probate professional such as Simplify, a solicitor’s firm, or an accountant, or friends and family members. It’s a good idea to choose two Executors in case one of them dies before you do. For example, you might choose one family member and one professional. However, please note that fees are payable where the Executor is a professional company.
Can an Executor refuse to administer the estate? Yes, this is called ‘renouncing’. If no Executor is named in the Will or if the Executor named cannot or doesn’t 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.
What should I do if I have made another Will since the one appointing HSBC as Executor? Assuming that HSBC is not your Executor under the replacement Will, you should confirm that your Will is no longer valid j out of date by either writing to us using the enclosed response envelope with the information as provided in the Confirm your Will as no longer valid section within page 4 and the response envelope provided.
What will happen to my Will if I confirm it is no longer valid? HSBC will return your Will to you, if we hold it. Please note, if you do not have a replacement Will appointing an alternative Executor and you revoke your Will appointing HSBC as Executor your estate may be left Intestate at point of death. This may affect who inherits your estate.
I would like to appoint Simplify’ as the Executor but I would like to update my Will prior to the change — Who should I contact? HSBC does not provide will writing services. If you need to amend your Will, including the addition of any specific instructions to the Executor, you can speak with Simplify if you would like further information on the services they offer. Alternatively, you can speak to your own solicitor or other provider of your choice. Please note that we have not reviewed or updated your Will in any way as part of the transfer process.
I would like to appoint Simplify as the Executor, but I would like to view my Will prior to the change — Who should I contact? If you believe your Will is held within HSBC’s Will Bank (Safekeeping) please contact your local Branch who can request a copy of your Will for you to view.
What will happen between now and the date of transfer of the business to Simplify? HSBC will maintain business as usual and will continue to be appointed as Executor (and will act if required and appropriate to do so) until the date of transfer. The new Executor appointment will take effect once the business is transferred to Simplify.
What if something happens to me prior to the date HSBC completes the transfer of its probate services business to Simplify? In the unfortunate event that you die HSBC will continue to act as Executor until completion of the transfer of the business to Simplify, after which time Simplify will complete the administration of your estate on behalf of HSBC.
What will happen if I do not respond by the deadline or refuse to appoint a new Executor? Please note that, from the date on which HSBC transfers its probate services business to Simplify (expected to be 30 October 2015), HSBC will no longer be offering probate services. Should you not be able to respond by that date and have any queries regarding your will appointing HSBC as Executor or wish to appoint Simplify or an alternative Executor, please contact Simplify directly on 0800 856 1442, and they will be happy to assist you in this process.
If you do not respond by the deadline stipulated, the appointment of HSBC as Executor will ultimately be renounced at the point of your death unless you appoint a replacement Executor before that time. If HSBC renounces appointment, any other Executor named in the Will may assume the role if the wording of the Will allows this. If there is no other Executor named in the Will, or this person has died before you (the Testator) or (if applicable) becomes divorced from the Testator, the court will usually grant the administration of the estate to the beneficiary with the greatest interest in the estate. This administrator should then carry out your wishes as expressed in the Will. The procedure is called “letters of administration with the Will annexed”,
What will happen to HSBC Probate Services Staff? Impacted staff will be transferred to Simplify, and the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (“TUPE”) will apply in respect of those employees affected by the transfer of the business to Simplify.
Are the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) aware of this transfer? Yes, the FCA has been notified that HSBC are transferring our Probates Business to Simplify with an expected completion date of 30 October 2015.
As Simplify operate mainly in the Probate sector they do not fall under the same regulatory framework as HSBC Trust Company (UK) Limited (and HSBC) and are therefore not regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority or the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK. The financial and legal aspects of probate administration are however covered under The Legal Services Act 2007 and The Trustee Act 2000.
For information and guidance Simplify Trust Corporation: simplify.co.uk/hsbc-probate The Probate Service: gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance Guidance and documents specifically on dealing with probate and inheritance tax
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC): hmrc.gov.uk/inheritancetax/index.htm Practical advice relating to managing an estate with implications such as tax, trusts and benefits.
UK Legislation: legislation.gov.uk Details of all UK Legislation managed by The National Archives on behalf of HM Government.
Directgov: gov.uk/browse/births-deaths-marriages/death Wide-ranging advice, including registering a death, arranging a funeral & dealing with an estate.
Citizens Advice Bureau: a dviceguide.org. u k/engla nci/your_fa mily/fa mily_index_ew/wills.htm Free legal information and advice on a wide range of topics.
Department for Work and Pensions: goy. uk/government/orga nisat ions/depa rtment-f or-work-pensions Information and advice on a wide range of topics including benefits and grants available.
Glossary of Legal Wording used within these documents
Codicil – A document that amends a previously executed Will. Each Codicil must conform to the same legal requirements as the original Will, including the signatures of the Testator and two disinterested witnesses (i.e. someone with no personal interest in the Will, e.g. is not a beneficiary)
Estate – The sum of a person’s assets — This can be formed of savings, investments, legal rights, interests and any entitlements to property of any kind. All liabilities and debts must be paid before the estate can be passed to the beneficiaries.
Executor – A person named by the Testator to carry out the directions of the Will,
Probate – The term commonly used when applying for the right to deal with a deceased person’s affairs. Grant of Probate is required when the deceased leaves one or more of the following: • £10,000 or more • Stocks or Shares • Certain insurance policies • Property or land held in their own name or as ‘tenants in common’
To establish whether the assets can be obtained without a Grant of Probate, the Executor or administrator would need to write to each institution informing them of the death and enclosing a copy of the death certificate (and Will where held).
Testator – The person who has written and executed a last Will and testament. In this instance, this will be you
Beneficiary — The person or persons named within a Will who will benefit from the estate of the Testator Witness — An independent person, who is not a beneficiary, nor related to a beneficiary, who witnesses that the Testator signed their Will/Codicil themselves and without duress or coercion.