Banks agree standard procedures for handling deceased clients' accounts      

4 October 2012

The leading high street banks in England and Wales have agreed to a new protocol setting out how they must deal with solicitors or STEP members administering a deceased client's estate.

In the past each bank has followed its own procedures, which has sometimes caused unnecessary stress to bereaved families, as well as delaying the winding-up of the deceased's estate. But the new protocol, negotiated between the British Bankers Association, STEP and the Law Society, should provide more consistency.

STEP has previously agreed protocols with individual banks and building societies, including Lloyds TSB and Nationwide. But the new protocol has been signed by Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Halifax, Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest. It is hoped that more institutions will participate in future, said STEP chief executive David Harvey.

‘STEP practitioners have long spoken of difficulties and delays during the estate administration process in relation to assets held by financial institutions,’ said Harvey. ‘We are pleased to now have agreements with the majority of UK banks which will provide grieving families with some certainty at a very difficult time.’

Law Society President Lucy Scott Moncrieff added that the new arrangement is a ‘considerable achievement.’ Managing relationships with banks and building societies has long been a problematic aspect of probate practice, she noted.

The protocol sets out how banks should handle the deceased client's current and savings accounts, credit cards and unsecured loans. However, they will not necessarily apply it to the deceased's business accounts, or their investments, pensions or insurance policies.

The first part of the protocol states what information the banks will demand from the practitioner on first contact or shortly afterwards. The second sets out how they should respond to the practitioner's legitimate requests for information. A third section describes the procedures to be followed by the bank when closing the deceased's accounts.

 

Sources

 

STEP (announcement)

STEP (Text of protocol, PDF)

Law Gazette

 

 


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