Probate firm in wills U-turn
A PROBATE firm accused of overcharging says it will now allow bereaved families to shop around for a better deal.
The firm, called ITC, offers a will-writing service but specialises in probate. It has a tie-up with banks such as Barclays. Those using Barclays for will-writing will often have ITC appointed as executor.
Families can be charged high fees when a probate firm, bank or solicitor that does the will-writing also acts as executor.
ITC has until now refused to renounce its executorship — citing duty of care to the deceased — if the beneficiaries want to appoint another firm or do it themselves . This means beneficiaries are often locked into paying high charges.
The move represents a major climbdown for the firm, which was criticised in last week’s Money Mail for high charges and using a free helpline and advice website to drum up business.
It also gives bereaved families the freedom to choose their probate provider.
ITC says it will only refuse to give up duties as an executor if there are legitimate concerns, such as a family dispute.
All the beneficiaries also have to ask ITC to step down.
Martin Trees, chief executive of I TC, says: ‘ Traditionally, professional will-writers, law f i rms, banks and specialist probate providers have refused to renounce executorships in the vast majority of cases on the basis of their “duty of care” to the deceased.
‘ However, this often l eaves beneficiaries “locked in” to higher charges and providers vulnerable to charges of self-interest from the beneficiaries.’
Chris Partington, a probate specialist at Manchester-based solicitor Slater Heelis, says: ‘Maybe this is an admission of guilt, but it’s good news.
‘ Bereaved families should be able to shop around for the best deal.’