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Banks review their policies

Big four banks review practices for selling will-writing and executor services.

Following discussions with the Office of Fair Trading, Barclays Bank, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and RBS Group have all voluntarily agreed to review how they sell will-writing and executor services .

The banks' level of charges for acting as executors, often between 4-5% of the estate value, has been the subject of criticism for a long time. Their unwillingness to step down as executors even in simple cases has also been criticised. Possibly as a result of this widespread criticism the banks' share of the probate market has fallen dramatically in recent years and now stands at just 3%, or around 15,000 cases per year.

The banks have now agreed to three key principles:

- Customers should not be told that a professional executor is necessary or usual - Customers should not be encouraged to appoint a professional executor unless a clear case can be made - The bank must be satisfied that the customer needed to made an informed decision and has a full understanding of the likely costs

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