Fund supermarket comes under fire for death fees on Isas
Fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown has been criticised for introducing "death fees" up to £600 – charging clients for carrying out valuations and basic administration on Isas and other fund accounts belonging to a deceased individual.
The company has always charged for holding investments, but these new additional fees for work including probate valuations, is seen by many as being greedy and heartless, particularly when other fund supermarkets do not charge for these services.
When questioned, a spokesperson for Hargreaves Lansdown, the UK's biggest fund supermarket, stressed that administrative tasks associated with probate valuations are generally very labour-intensive and so the company felt that it needed to recoup some of the associated costs.
All this of course then leads you to wonder how other fund supermarkets manage to cope. Barclays Stockbrokers for instance says that it applies no additional charges in relation to the probate process. Nor does it charge for probate valuations.
Although organisations such as this are meant to be very clear about their charges, it seems that there is no standard way of charging probate fees within the industry. There are often additional extras including exit fees and transaction fees which are added on, so it pays to ask up front about any further potential fees which may be added at a later date.
It’s always fascinating when the death of an individual turns up some valuable antiquities, with loved ones being unaware of their value or even of their presence.
And so it was with a probate valuation recently in Dorset. The owner of a cottage died there recently and relatives called in probate valuers to assess the contents of the family home, where the owner had lived for 40 years.
During the valuation, a number of watercolours were uncovered. These paintings were apparently bought by members of the family during the 1960s and 1970s from Sotheby’s.
Most of the paintings are estimated now to be valued at several thousand pounds and go on sale later this month with Sherborne auctioneers, Charterhouse.
So what should be normally be included in a probate valuation? Well, we can’t guarantee that you’ll uncover any hidden gems, but the following should always be taken into consideration:
- money in bank or building society accounts
- property and land
- businesses and business assets
- investments such as stocks and shares
- personal chattels, including jewellery, art, antiques
- furniture, fixtures and fittings
- motor vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, boats
- life insurance policies
- pensions that include a lump sum payment on death
- assets in a trust from which the deceased benefited
- foreign assets including overseas bank accounts, property or shares
- any asset gifted 7 years before death
- an asset gifted at any time where the deceased kept an interest, e.g. a house they gave away but lived in rent free