Until 2011, Lloyds Banking Group offered a storage service known as ‘Safe Custody’ where customers could securely store important documents, including their wills.
Many of Lloyds’ customers opted to securely store their Wills using this service in the belief that when they passed away, the bank would be notified and make the Will available to their executors and/or personal representatives.
However, it has recently come to light that Lloyds has failed to identify that they held approximately 9,000 Wills for deceased customers under this storage scheme.
In some cases, the Wills held would have been obsolete due to them being superseded by a later version. In other cases, copies of the Will held by the bank may have also been stored elsewhere, enabling its existence to be identified by other sources.
However, Lloyds’ failure to correctly notify executors or personal representatives that they held a Will is likely to have resulted in a large number of estates being wrongly distributed. Executors and personal representatives may have been led to believe that no Will existed and that the deceased died intestate, or that an earlier Will was their last will and testament.
In such cases, assets may have been distributed to the wrong beneficiaries or incorrectly apportioned and assets may have been distributed without taking advantage of the tax planning measures incorporated in the Will by wrongly distributing the estate in accordance with the earlier will or under the intestacy rules.
Lloyds has publicised that it is taking steps to contact families of those affected and will ensure that anyone affected will be fully compensated.
What to do if you have been affected
If you are concerned that:
- A deceased may have held a Will with Lloyds Banking Group and their assets may have been incorrectly distributed resulting in you suffering a loss
- You were an executor or personal representative and you may have incorrectly distributed an estate after being informed by Lloyds Banking Group that they did not hold a Will for the deceased
- You have received a legacy under a Will or under the intestacy rules from a deceased and you believe that they may have held a Will with Lloyds Banking Group and you are concerned as to whether the distribution you have received may be clawed back
we recommend that you take the following steps:
- Seek to gather evidence of the true position by contacting Lloyds Banking Group to enquire if they held a will for the deceased and if so, to request a copy of the Will
- Review the Will to ascertain whether the it is the most recent Will or if a later Will was prepared by the deceased which superseded the Lloyds Banking Group Will, making this will obsolete
- Compare the terms of the Will to the terms of any earlier Will used to administer the estate, or if no previous will existed the position under the intestacy rules to ascertain what losses have been suffered
- Seek legal advice as to your position and the claims and/or defences that might be available to you.
For further information and advice, please contact us on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be in touch.