Probate Update

 In Probate

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Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017

This Act received Royal Assent in April 2017 but its implementation was delayed pending putting into place the support infrastructure such as procedural rules, regulations and code of practice.

It was designed in principle to enable an appointed person to manage the assets and resources of the missing person pending them being found or a decision being made about their death.

Claudia Lawrence’s father campaigned for the law after he found it difficult to manage his daughter’s finances when the chef went missing in 2009.

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It would appear that the Ministry of Justice has kicked the implementation of the Act into the long grass as Lord Keen of Elie in reply to an MP’s enquiry said that the department still has a wide range of work to complete and has to allocate resources on the basis of priority.

Death notification service

A new service will make it easier for personal applicants to manage estate administration. The Death Notification Service (DNS) was launched at the beginning of July to provide a one-stop shop service notifying financial institutions of a person’s death with the aim of closing multiple current and savings accounts in one go.

The DNS is run by technology company Equinti and major financial institutions are backing it such as Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest and Santander. The DNS can be found at www.deathnotificationservice.co.uk or on telephone: 0333 207 6574.

Apparently the institutions will contact the enquirer within 10 working days to explain what happens next.

Publication of probate fees by law firms

From December 2018 all law firms in England & Wales regulated by the SRA will have to publish prices for all probate and conveyancing services they offer the public. The SRA found from research it has conducted that the public rate reputation of the provider as most important followed by price.

The Legal Services Board told the SRA and the other eight regulatory bodies to produce action plans requiring law firms to publish their prices online in 2017.

Please note it would appear that the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England & Wales, which regulates its members in the provision of probate services, is not requiring similar publication of fees by its members.

New rules on insurance distributions

From 1 October 2018 the Insurance Distribution Directive replaces the Insurance Mediation Directive. Firms undertaking probate are likely to be affected where they advise on or arrange insurance products for their clients.

Revised rules will be appearing in the SRA Handbook and firms will need to review the new requirements which strengthen the information which consumers must be given and update their practice.

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