A woman is seeking hundreds of thousands of pounds compensation from Barclays, claiming the bank’s will-writing service resulted in her losing a stake in a valuable London home.
Barclays is contesting the claim.
But, in an interesting twist, Telegraph Money can reveal that when the complaint was previously assessed by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the bank was found at fault. The Ombudsman ordered Barclays to pay “a fair and reasonable settlement”.
Unusually, Barclays decided to ignore the Financial Ombudsman’s recommendation.
The matter has now gone to the High Court.
Court documents detail how in 2007 Ebenezer Aregbesola used Barclays’ £90 will-writing service to create a will dealing with his various assets including homes overseas and in London. His will instructed half of the London home to be given to his daughter, Tinuola Aregbesola, on his death.
The property was owned jointly by Mr Aregbesola and his wife – who was not Tinuola’s mother. Because of the joint ownership, on Mr Aregbesola’s death in early 2014, the property went wholly to his wife – in contravention of the wishes spelt out in the will.
In order for the will’s conditions to have been fulfilled, Barclays should have severed the joint tenancy agreement, the court document alleges. This would have enabled half of the property’s value to pass as instructed to his daughter. Because this severance process – which the Ombudsman describes as “a simple formality” – was neglected, the joint tenant, Mr Aregbesola’s widow, is legally entitled to the whole property which she can now bequeath as she pleases.
The case highlights the danger of popular, cheap “DIY” wills which are often too simplistic to reflect accurately their owner’s wishes.
In summing up the case the Ombudsman concluded: “The half-share in the property in London cannot be gifted to Miss Aregbesola in accordance with the late Mr Aregbesola’s wishes.
“There is no subsequent right for this to be contested with the co-owner in a court of law. Had the bank referred Mr Aregbesola’s will instruction form to its solicitors I am aware