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A new protocol designed to ease the administrative burden on family members in England who suffer a bereavement has been agreed by the British Bankers' Association (BBA), the Law Society and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).

The protocol covers the exchange of information between banks and solicitors and estate practitioners following the death of a bank customer.

It brings clarity to probate-related dealings between solicitors and banks by allowing solicitors to efficiently negotiate the different administrative procedures used by banks for releasing assets held by deceased customers. It has been signed on behalf of Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Halifax, Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest and covers the handling of current, savings, credit card and unsecured loan accounts.

Law Society president Lucy Scott Moncrieff said:

'This protocol unlocks the labyrinth of administration, costs and stress for grieving relatives by helping their solicitor to negotiate the different administrative procedures involved in winding-up an estate. Managing relationships with banks and building societies has long been a problematic aspect of probate practice. This new arrangement is a considerable achievement and we hope to see more banks participate in the protocol in the future.'


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