It’s a good letter: I’m not sure whether whoever reads it realises that it is carefully written and may have taken a good few hours to check and double check, particularly when it refers to the organisation(s) to whom the wills have been sold. Just as “concerned” means “angry” and “precise” means”nitpicking in the extreme” in legal terminology, the swathes of what is not said about Simplify and its associated companies speak volumes.
It might seem odd that your executors can sell on the rights to deal with your assets, as the bank have done here. But this sort of thing has happened, by and large, for professional executors over the years, albeit perhaps not so obviously. Law firms never die, they just get taken over… successor firms can prove the wills of the prior firm if the will was drafted that way. Or encourage the clients to make a codicil (and in doing so, both correct any massive errors in initial drafting and/or update terms). It is no mistake that the wills stored by a firm are called a “will bank”. Usually, however, with a whole firm takeover, the wills and live files, the contacts and reputation are all bound up together and described as “good will” valued for a greater or lesser amount than the desks, carpets and computers. Slightly less clear that your will can be seen as a commodity in itself, for sale to another organisation for a price, whilst still being your own property as a client.
Who you choose to be your executors is a personal choice – you might prefer a professional executor because your family do not get on well with each other – or you think that it is too much of a burden for friends to bear. That’s quite alright for you to make this choice – but as this letter rightly points out – the terms on which you appoint a professional do need to be made clear to you – they will charge for their work – and how they do this should be something you feel comfortable with – these are your assets, after all.
Some professionals are bound by professional codes in their conduct towards the public – solicitors are – you can make complaints to the SRA if you feel you have not been treated in a fair way. Accountants have a professional body too – it is fair to say that complaints to a professional body can be incredibly damaging to the firm, and so a reasonable amount of time is spent in trying to do the right thing and not get complaints in the first place.
If you are to choose a professional, then it’s a good idea to see what institution regulates them – who is the person that they have to answer to when you are no longer alive to express your concerns – who can your beneficiaries turn to when they think they are being overcharged, or waiting for ages – is there anything or anyone to protect them?