Fidelity got probate wrong
I am executor for my late mother and have power of attorney for my father.
On notifying Fidelity International of my mother’s death I had advised that my father wished to transfer the Isa from his wife’s name into his own. This is allowed under the Isa “additional permitted subscription” rules.
Fidelity refused to respond to me without probate being granted.
This was contrary to my experience with a raft of other providers. The Probate Office had in fact stated that probate was not necessary for this estate.
Having to get probate after all because of Fidelity took another two months and added to my distress at this sad time.
Eventually probate was granted and a certified copy sent to Fidelity. I then had to make repeated telephone calls to the firm.
Despite quoting the HMRC statement on such transfers, I was only sent forms to sell the Isa and purchase a new one, which is not how we wanted it done. CC, KENT
You and your father had wanted to transfer the assets “in specie” – that is, in their existing form.
It now turns out that, while Fidelity does accept additional permitted subscriptions, it does not at present offer the option of funding them with an in specie contribution.
Fidelity explained that its systems could not cope with transferring in specie but that it was looking to enhance its services to enable this.
We were given the impression that the changes were imminent but it turned out that they were planned for later in the year.
Meanwhile, the holdings would need to be cashed in and bought again, a process that you had been led to understand would lead to charges.
However, it now transpired that Fidelity did not charge dealing fees for selling and buying the funds at issue here (although it did for investment trusts). Therefore there are no additional costs for you doing it this way.
Had you known all this earlier things would have progressed differently.
With this new knowledge the transfer process was at last instigated.
As a gesture of goodwill Fidelity now told me it had offered your father £150 and sent an explanatory letter. A month on, neither of you had heard anything of this.
I had to go back to Fidelity, which agreed to increase the goodwill offer to £250 and write the letter I had thought had already gone to you. However, I had to nudge Fidelity again to send this.
Meanwhile, rattled by the inaccurate information it had given me, I went back again on the probate issue.
At last Fidelity admitted that you should never have been told probate had been required, as it hadn’t. It attributed this to an oversight.
The firm will now refund all the fees you have paid for probate and give a further £250 for goodwill.
Fidelity’s delays have significantly lengthened the time taken for you to close the estate, which is an important part of the bereavement process.
To help handle bereavement cases, Fidelity has set up a specialist team. It said it was extremely sorry to have put you to so much inconvenience.