Questions Of Cash: 'I want to run my family affairs but NatWest has huge exit fees'

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The Independent Online

Q. Our family has had a discretionary trust since 1997, for which NatWest acts as trustee. I have requested that I act as trustee in place of NatWest, but the bank says its exit fee has doubled from 1 per cent to 2 per cent - this would be a charge of £4,316. NatWest provided no advance notification of increasing the exit fee and the administration for passing over trusteeship is minimal. TW, Herefordshire.

A. The increase is steep but NatWest says it is reasonable. A spokesman says: "Before the fee was changed to 2 per cent, it had not increased for 10 years. Customers sign a trust deed, which advises that the bank may vary fees. Pre-notification of fee changes are not issued. We charge an exit fee to cover a host of duties: completion of final tax returns - for income, capital gains and inheritance tax - and liaison with the relevant HMRC office, completion of asset transfers, liaison with companies on share transfers, completion of legal documents and trustees minutes."

What NatWest's statement glosses over is that the increase is not of a fixed fee, but doubles the percentage charged. NatWest was already receiving an inflation-related increase in fees through its percentage rate.

You say you are going to refer your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service. We hope FOS will be sympathetic to your case. While the banking code does not cover trust administration, it does specify that banks must provide at least 30 days' notice before raising fees for banking services and that banks must behave reasonably.

Q. In January I ordered a new Renault Clio with an eight-week delivery date and had to pay a £500 deposit. The dealer, Swan of Chichester, assured me that the car would fit my drive. I was unconvinced and asked another dealer to test this - and found it wouldn't. I cancelled my order, several weeks before delivery date.

After I wastold it would return the deposit, the dealer then said it would keep £250 as a cancellation charge and keep the other £250 in case I bought another car from it. Other dealers say there should be no problem in selling the car. The dealer won't take calls from us. LL, by e-mail.

A. We also phoned the dealer repeatedly, leaving messages for the managing director - who consistently failed to respond to these or our e-mails.

The reason for this eventually became clear, with the company entering into a Company Voluntary Arrangement - it is insolvent.

The good news is that the insolvency practitioner handling the winding-up - Portland - has found that the proceeds of asset disposals should cover all liabilities. You should make your claim to Portland to recover the £500 deposit.

Q. I was recently widowed and inherited my husband's 703 shares in George Wimpey plc, worth about £3,500. I sent the stock transfer form with probate of my husband's will to Lloyds TSB Registrars - which handles share administration for Wimpey - by recorded delivery.

The probate was returned, but the shares in my name did not arrive. Lloyds TSB wants £28.20 for administration, plus £33.60 for insurance indemnification to send a replacement. If Lloyds TSB had used recorded delivery, the re would have been no problem. MB, Thirsk.

A. Lloyds TSB Registrars has agreed to waive its £28.20 administration fee, but says the indemnity and resulting cost of £33.60 is necessary under Wimpey's articles of association. It says sending all share certificates by recorded delivery "is not practical".

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. Please do not send original documents. Write to: Questions of Cash, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; cash@independent.co.uk.

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