The UK’s biggest high street banks and building societies have drawn up a new code of practice to offer greater help and support for bereaved families, the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) has announced.
The Bereavement Principles have been developed for personal banking customers, to further assist families and relieve stress around alerting financial organisations to the death of a loved one by cutting bureaucracy and providing an even more sensitive service.
Cruse Bereavment Care welcomes the new code. Chief Executive Debbie Kerslake said: “At Cruse we often hear about the difficult time families have dealing with banks after a bereavement. We have been talking with several banks about ways that we can work together to improve the service they provide to bereaved people. Recently we collaborated with RBS and Natwest on a new brochure which is helping bereaved family members, and we also offer a range of training options for companies where staff come into contact with bereaved people at work. We hope this new code will help promote a more sensitive service across the board.”
The new code of six principles includes a commitment from banks and building societies to:
- Allow necessary payments from the deceased’s accounts to cover any funeral bill, probate fees, or inheritance tax;
- Improve empathy skills and knowledge training for staff; and
- One-stop notification across products and within UK customer brands.
The one-stop notification system would enable a bank to notify its relevant brands about specific accounts and products under the deceased’s names, as requested by the notifier.
The principles also include an ongoing feasibility study for a “Tell us Once” style scheme which would allow members of the public to notify securely a number of retail banks and building societies of the death of an account holder with one single notification.
Banks and building societies already have processes for helping those with bereavement cases but personal banking customers will now be able to expect the same consistent standards of service when the new code is put into practice by the end of 2016.
The principles have been developed and voluntarily agreed by the BBA Bereavement Working Group, comprised of Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide Building Society, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and the Building Societies Association, and will cover UK brands under those groups. The principles have also been backed by leading consumer groups and bereavement specialists.
BBA Bereavement Working Group Chair Mandy Griffin from Nationwide Building Society, said: “The new Bereavement Principles will give greater support to families at the most distressing time and make the process of notifying financial organisations of the death of a loved one much easier. Our aim is to make sure we deal sensitively with bereaved families and help them deal with the deceased financial affairs as quickly as possible.
“Through the bereavement working group, banks and building societies will continue to work together to ensure the principles become a reality”
Anthony Browne, CEO of the BBA, said: "Following the death of a friend or family member, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is closing and settling bank accounts, but the new Bereavement Principles will help to further reduce stress and offer a more sensitive service to customers."