Writing in the Daily Mail this month, Victoria Bischoff warns against probate plans that might lead to families losing thousands of pounds.

Pre-paid probate plans, she says, promise families peace of mind. Contributors pay several thousand pounds upfront to avoid their families being hit by big bills when they die and to protect against rising costs in a similar way to pre-paid funeral plans.

However, the Money Mail has warned people in the past against the mis-selling of funeral plans, where there are unfair charges, high pressure sales tactics and concerns about the financial soundness of some companies operating in the area.

Loss of thousands of pounds

The company Safe Hands collapsed earlier this year and about 47,000 customers now face losing thousands of pounds if another company doesn’t step in to honour the pre-paid funeral plans.

Ms Bischoff is concerned that unregulated companies are allowed to pocket vast sums of money for future services and that pre-paid probate plans are not “remotely suitable” for many people.

Probate is the official term for the legal authority needed to manage a person’s estate after they die. It is not needed for small estates, and it can vary depending on the value and complexity of the estate. People can apply for the documentation themselves for a flat fee.

Targeting elderly customers

The Money Mail raises concerns that no-one ins monitoring how the plans are being sold or how many people have bought them, particularly if they are targeted at elderly customers who might be susceptible to sales pitches that mention sparing loved ones an administrative burden.

The article notes that increasing numbers of providers are popping up at Companies House and that ministers ought to give the Financial Conduct Authority permission to oversee the industry.

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