Fidelity got pro­bate wrong

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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