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Sorting out another Will

My Gran died at Christmas, having surprised everyone (including herself) by living well into her nineties. She had very little to leave, and made a very simple Will, but there was one clause in it that has been causing me no end of trouble. She wanted to leave a sum of money to her great-great-nephew, of whom she was very fond. But since he is a child aged about ten, she left it to him “in trust”, and named me and my sister as trustees. That sounds sensible – the duties attached to a trustee aren’t particularly onerous, and all we have to do is to take reasonable care of the money, and hand it over once the lad reaches eighteen. It’s only a small sum, and won’t even pay for one term’s worth of tuition fees at university once he comes of age, so it’s not worth making a huge fuss about. But since I happened to be passing my bank, I thought I’d ask about how I should go about opening a Trustees Account.

I was horrified at the amount of bureaucracy that was involved in “doing things properly”. For a start, I was told I’d need a copy of the Trust Deeds (there aren’t any) or failing that a copy of Gran’s Will certified by a solicitor as a true copy. Then, in order to prove the identity of the beneficiary of the trust, I’d need to produce the child’s passport or his original Birth Certificate (not a copy) and proof of his parent’s address. I wanted to name my sister on the account as the other Trustee, so she’d also have to prove her identity and address because of money laundering legislation. And since she doesn’t bank with the same company as me, that would mean passport, driving licence and a utility bill all in her name. Moreover, because she’s changed her name on marriage since the Will was written, she’d also have to produce her marriage certificate to prove she was the same person named in the Will. And given that my sister lives in London and the child concerned comes from Liverpool, the logistics of getting all the right documentation in place would not be worth the effort for the small sum concerned!

I know that money laundering is a serious problem, and plenty of banks have had their knuckles rapped by the regulator for being too blasé about the identity of their customers. But this really was taking process and paperwork too far just for the sake of it! I told my sister I simply wasn’t prepared to go through the effort involved to jump through all the hoops. Instead we came to a compromise. She has an account at the same building society as I do, so we’re both known quantities there and should be able to open an account without having to go through all the proof-of-identity charades. I proposed to open a joint savings account with her, shove the lad’s inheritance in it, then if anything happened to me, she would still be able to operate the account and hand the accumulated pennies over to him when he reaches eighteen. The only downside I can see is that, because it’s not formally in the child’s name, we can’t register the account for interest to be paid net of tax. But with current interest rates and the small sum involved, that’s a trivial concern.

That seemed a suitable way forward, I posted a savings account application form to her, she filled it in and signed it and sent it back to me. I then completed my details and took it along to the building society on Saturday to open a deposit account. It didn’t help that the woman behind the counter was clearly new and had never opened a joint savings account before! She really couldn’t cope with opening an account without having the two principals standing in front of her. And I couldn’t escape the money laundering procedures entirely – she still wanted to verify our signatures. Well, mine was easy – I had my driving licence on me so that took care of that. But my sister was another problem. Since she’s a longstanding customer, it should have been possible to check with the signature they hold on file. But the computer system didn’t want to play ball, and the assistant couldn’t access it. She promised to “try again later” and then open the account as directed once the signature had been verified.

So I’m currently waiting to hear back from the building society one way or the other. I hope I’ve successfully opened a deposit account, and can now largely forget about the matter for the next eight years. But I have a niggling doubt that I may have fallen at the last hurdle and will have to go through all this rigmarole again. It’s already taken up far too much of my time!

{ 1 } Comments

  1. pauld | 31 July 2015 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Probably better these days for most people do do things the ‘unofficial (less hassle) way’ whenever possible