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How a £90 Will from Barclays Cost a Woman Half her Father's House

Barclays are being sued for hundreds of thousands of pounds by a woman who claims the bank’s Will writing service resulted in her losing a stake in her late father’s London home. Although the bank is contesting the reports, Telegraph Money have revealed that when the complaint was assessed by the Financial Ombudsman Service, the bank was found at fault so the complaint has been progressed to the High Court.

Documents provided by the court detailed how Ebenezer Aregbesola used the Barclays £90 Will writing service in 2007 to create a Will dealing with his various assets which included homes overseas and in London. His Will instructed half of his home to be given to his daughter upon his death.

The property was jointly owned by Mr Aregbesola and his wife, who was not his daughter’s mother.  As a result of this joint ownership, upon Mr Aregbesola’s death, the property was transferred solely to his wife despite the wishes laid out in his Will.

In order for the Will’s conditions and requests to be fulfilled, Barclays should have severed the joint tenancy agreement as this would have enabled half of the property’s value to pass as instructed to his daughter.  As a result of this severance process being neglected and not followed, the joint tenant, Mr Aregbesola’s widow, is legally entitled to the whole property and can do with it as she sees fit.  However, she is not allowed to gift it to Miss Aregbesola as there is no subsequent right for this to be contested.

In summing up the events, the Ombudsman states that “in order to resolve the complaint we would usually ask the bank to put the consumer back in the position they would have been had the correct steps been taken in the first instance. Unfortunately the share in the property in Balham is incapable of being gifted now. Therefore, I would ask Barclays to come up with a settlement that would fairly and reasonably resolve the complaint taking into consideration the value of the property and the intended gift.”

However, Barclays argued that their Will writing division was not regulated and therefore would not have to adhere to the findings, which the Ombudsman accepted was technically correct.

Daniel Winter of law firm Nockolds said: "The growing complexity of family structures, coupled with the rising value of estates, means that the administration of estates often calls for greater judgement than in the past."

“Cases where an individual or organisation has simply been negligent, and failed to grasp the legal responsibilities of administering an estate are becoming more frequent. We have also seen cases where a family member acting as fiduciary is motivated by greed and takes assets which should go to other beneficiaries, or seeks to ‘correct’ a perceived wrong that happened in the past."

Do you know of anyone who has suffered with similar problems?