STEP – Bank Deal Helps Bereaved

STEP agrees new protocol to provide consistency for bereaved families in their dealings with banks 

STEP: The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners has agreed a new protocol with the British Bankers Association (BBA) and the Law Society of England and Wales to bring a consistent approach to the way banks deal with assets and the exchange of information following the death of a bank customer.

The adoption of this protocol should prevent unnecessary delays in and uncertainties when administering a deceased customer’s bank accounts, helping to shield relatives of the deceased from further stress at a very difficult and sensitive time.

Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Halifax, Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest have signed the new protocol, which covers the handling of current, savings, credit card and unsecured loan accounts.

This latest measure builds on the foundation of earlier protocols entered into between STEP and individual financial institutions such as Lloyds TSB and the Nationwide Building Society.

STEP CEO David Harvey said: ‘STEP practitioners have long spoken of difficulties and delays during the estate administration process in relation to assets held by financial institutions. 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. We thank the BBA and the Law Society for their cooperation on this protocol and would encourage banks and similar financial institutions currently outside the agreement to consider adopting it.’

BBA chief executive Anthony Browne said: “The last thing people want when grieving is bureaucratic hassle between their banks and lawyers. These new guidelines should help make the process work more sympathetically and avoid delays.”

Law Society President Lucy Scott Moncrieff said: “This protocol unlocks the labyrinth of administration, costs and stress for grieving relatives by helping their solicitor to negotiate the different administrative procedures involved in winding-up an estate. Managing relationships with banks and building societies has long been a problematic aspect of probate practice. This new arrangement is a considerable achievement and we hope to see more banks participate in the protocol in the future.”

Stephen Pett, of The Probate Department Ltd said “Anything which speeds up the probate process is to be welcomed, though this deal does seem to be rather aimed at helping STEP members and solicitors rather than Probate practitioners in general, which would have been more beneficial to the public who increasingly refuse to pay the hourly rates required by some.  I do have some doubts as to whether the protocol will speed things up or increase bureaucratic delays – only time will tell.”

STEP bank deal helps Bereaved.