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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71130
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Our Bank, is insisting we either send them copies of the will

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Our Bank, is insisting we either send them copies of the will or probate that proves who owns the shares of a deceased Shareholder, or provide proof of ID of the person we believe is and claims to be the sole benifiicery of the deceased persons estate. Unfortunately the person who claims to be the benifciery is not responding to our letters and is ex directory, so is not providing proof of ID and the solicitors who deal with the will and probate have gone out of business, and we are struggling to get a copy of the will/probate via Yet the bank insists we must provide the documents by December the 1st or they will make our bank account inoperable so we cannot withdraw money or use the account effectively seizing our assets and threatening to put us out of business. I just cannot convince the Bank if the person does not want the shares or will not co-operate there is nothing we can do about it, and they will not even give us an extension of the deadline to sort things out. I am at a total loss to know how to proceed, the FCA just say they have the power to do this, and the Ombudsman advised going to see the branch - I did but they cannot help.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
You have a potential claim against the bank if they have failed in their duty of care to you by not carrying out sufficient checks on the recipient of the money when that account was opened.
It is not going to be an easy claim and I think it's 50-50 as to whether you would win or not but clearly, the bank could not have carried out their checks adequately otherwise the recipient of the money would not have been able to take the money from you, close the accounts and disappear.
On the other side of the coin, there is no reason why the call centre should query your transactions but that would depend on whether you routinely made transactions involving large sums of money.
Whilst you probably have a claim against the bank, it would not be for the full amount of money because you are also under a duty to ensure that whoever you are sending the money to is substantial.
Unless you want to spend a lot of money in risky litigation against the bank you might want to wait to see what the outcome is of a complaint made to the Financial Ombudsman which is something that would certainly be worth doing straightaway. The beauty of a complaint to the Ombudsman is that even
if it is not upheld, you do not have any court costs to pay.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi jo

I think I must have confused you and not put my question clearly. At the time the account was opened the shareholder who is now deceased was alive, and we are been asked to provide documents to verify who the correct owner of the shares (25%) now is. At companies house the estate of the deceased shareholder was listed and RBS was not happy with this. As I understand it the legal position is that the person who inherits the shares should apply to us to become the legal owner of the shares with copies of the will or probate. This never happened, the original shareholder had no interest in the company and to the best of our knowledge his new wife inherited everything. We told RBS this traced her address the Bank wrote to her and she at first wrote back to say she was the sole beneficiery, then the bank asked her for copies of the will or probate - she never replied and she does not now reply to any communications and is ex directory. We were then asked to provide the will or probate documents, but the solictiors who handled the will/probate had gone out of business, and the solictors who were required to take over the documents coud not find them but suggested we apply for an extension from the bank and try and get copies from the Leeds registry of wills and probabate. But the bank refused, and I foolishly agreed to change ownership of the shares to the wife at companies house and then they asked for proof of id from the wife and she will not co-operate. So. Basically my question is do they have the right to make our account inoperative which means we cannot withdraw money or use the account and coud be put out of business, and is there any legal way of trying to resolve this issue. The Ombudsman said contact the Branch and unfortunately he could only help us with the problem if we were put out of business by the banks action. So we are clutching at straws and trying to find some way out.

I am not certain what the bank account has to do with the probate for the shares.
I'm sorry but I'm going to have to ask you to explain exactly what happened here from the beginning because the initial question does not include the preamble.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Our Bank RBS have been asking us for a copy of the will and probate to prove who now owns the shares of the deceased shareholder. (As I think you are saying - the person who inherits the shares should supply the proof to us but not the bank - But unfortunately the bank were asking us for copies.)

To try to clarify this complicated situation:-
A shareholder died in 1998, and no one ever claimed his shares. And at companies house his estate was recorded as the owner of the shares. The Bank (RBS) never questioned this before. But then our account manager contacted us to say the Bank wanted to know who owned the shares(25%). We made enquiries to the other shareholder who told us it was the deceased wife at the time of his death. He gave us the address of the solicitors who handled the will/probate. Unfortunately the solictors had gone out of business but by professional body rules another company were supposed to have the documents. but at first they did not respond to our calls. And to sort things without further bother I agreed with the RBS account manager to accept the wife as the sharholder and to change the companies house records at the next annual return.

I thought the matter was settled, But then I got a letter from RBS to say if I did not supply the documents they wanted (which they did not specify in the letter) by december 1st they would make our account inoperative. I contacted them and they said they wanted copies of the will and probate from us. So I made more effort to contact the solictors who should have copies of the will and probate and by sending an email got a reply. But when they searched and could not find the documents, and suggested we asked the bank for an extension and wrote to the Leeds registrar of wills and probates to get a copy of the will and probate. We did but the bank refused to give us an extension. In desparation, I foolishy did an early annual return and transfered the shares to the deceased mans wife, and told them I had done this hoping this would sort it- but the bank then said they needed proof of ID from the wife. She is ex directory, and I sent her a recorded letter and telegram to go to the nearest RBS branch fo prove her id. She has not so far replied or taken her proof of id to an RBS branch. So Basically I am at a loss what we can do to persuade someone who either does not want the shares or just can't be bothered to go to an RBS branch to prove her id and her ownership of the shares. Unfortunately, the Bank's attitude is not how can we help someone who has been a good customer for over 30 years to sort this problem it is provide the documents by december 1st or we will make your account inoperative.

My question is; "Is there anything I can legally do to stop them making our bank account inoperative?" And if I cannot get the documents or proof of ID and I cannot get another Business account set up because they apply the same regulations and want the same ID or same copies of will/probate "How can I recover my money (My current option seems to be to draw out al the cash before december 1st and put it into a private account- but that might go against me and make me and the co us look dodgy.)