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31 Jan 2022

'Lloyds Bank refuses to discuss my dad's mortgage after he died, what can I do?'

As the executor or administrator of a will, you have a right to access financial information.

Do you have a consumer problem you need to put right? Which? is here to help.

Dear Which?,

After my father died I became responsible for selling his home, as the executor of his will. While finalising the details of the house sale, it has been discovered that there is a 'charge' against the property, which means a mortgage on it is still outstanding.

But my dad paid off his mortgage around 30 years ago, and I'm certain this is a mistake.

I've tried to speak to dad's mortgage lender, Lloyds Bank, but multiple members of customer service staff have claimed they can't talk to me because this is a probate related matter, and they can only speak to a solicitor dealing with my dad's estate.

I'm taking care of the probate process myself, without solicitors, which is perfectly allowed.

While this standoff continues, I can't sell the house and I'm worried the sale will fall through. Maintaining dad's empty home is physically and emotionally hard, and the cost of the bills is quickly adding up.

Claire, Stevenage

Put to Rights

Lauren Merryweather, consumer rights expert at Which? says:

There's been a misunderstanding on the part of Lloyds' customer services.

Although you're selling the house in order to complete the probate process, what you're asking for isn't specifically a probate issue, it's an access to information matter.

As the executor of your father's will, you have the right to access, and discuss, his finances with his banks and lenders in order to help you get his estate in order.

As the executor of someone's will, you can deal with the probate process yourself without any need for a solicitor.

Many people do choose to get legal help if they're dealing with a large or complicated estate. It can be an overwhelming task to take on after losing a close family member or friend.

Property records show an outstanding charge on your fathers house, which usually means there is an active mortgage.

Even though the mortgage was evidently paid off long ago, this administrative error needs to be cleared from the property's records by Lloyds before you can sell up.

We questioned Lloyds on your behalf and it investigated your case. It said that it is sorry for the confusion caused and has arranged for the removal of the charge on the property. This has allowed the house sale to go ahead,

Lloyds clarified that executors of a will are legally entitled to complete probate without a solicitor and that it is happy to deal directly with executors. Lloyds customer services sent a personal apology and also paid out £300 in compensation.

Need to know

  • If you've been appointed as the executor of a will - or an administrator of an estate where there is no will - you have the right to access the financial accounts and records of the person who has died. This is so you can cancel regular payments, settle any debts and establish the size of the estate in order to apply for probate.
  • Banks and lenders usually have specialist departments that deal with executors and administrators and are trained to support them with accurate information, and compassion.
  • Find out more about your rights and the probate probate process, and find out exactly what you need to do with our downloadable probate checklist.

Get in touch

If you've got a problem you'd like us to solve email us at yourstory@which.co.uk.

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