What the equity release legal journey looks like.

 

Checked for accuracy and updated on 09 May 2024

Clients are at the forefront of everything Gilroy Steel Solicitors do. We pride ourselves on providing all clients with an approachable, professional, and efficient service whilst we assist them through their equity release journey.

The following is the equity release process from a solicitors viewpoint and details the steps involved from receipt of you instructing Gilroy Steel Solicitors to conduct the legal conveyancing on your behalf.

Gilroy Steel Solicitors conduct file risk assessments at the outset and during the matter. We appreciate clients have an expected positive outcome and we achieve this. During our home visit our clients are put at ease and everything is explained. Enhanced due diligence is also conducted in during the home visit. If at any time during the matter we feel it should not proceed we will discuss this with all parties concerned.

We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Law Society, and accredited security compliant by the Payment Card Industry with Cyber Essential being signed-off shortly. As a full-service law firm we abide by all legal requirements however, Equity Release focuses us on the Prevention of Financial Crime and Fraud including but not limited to:

  • Money Laundering Act 2017;
  • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002;
  • Counter terrorism Act 2008;
  • Criminal Finances Act 2017;
  • Bribery Act 2010;
  • FCA guidance.

 

To best support you and your clients we have dedicated teams in the following roles:

  • New Business - client welcome telephone call, initial documents etc;
  • Home visit scheduling - all appointments all areas of UK;
  • Case Handler Support - day-to-day assistance and chasers;
  • Case Handlers - for all legal matters and case progression or Tier 1 and 2 matters;
  • Senior Case Handlers - for Tier 3 and linked matters, purchases, matrimonial etc;
  • Finance team - processing all client and 3rd party financial transfers, reconciliation, bills etc;
  • Post Completion team - to deal with post completion once the file has been completed;
  • Leadership Team - include team managers and directors delivering strategic focus and oversight of day-to-day operations.

 

Step 1

Upon instruction, Gilroy Steel Solicitors will contact the client and issue a Client Introductory Pack within 24 hours. The pack will contain the following:

  • Terms of Business;
  • Personal Details Questionnaire;
  • Confirmation to Proceed form for completion by the client’s and return.

 

Clients and Advisers of Gilroy Steel Solicitors can access their online portal for milestone updates which include dates for the following:

  • Client Introductory Pack sent;
  • Offer received;
  • Home visit appointment date;
  • Signed documents received back in the office;
  • Signed documents checked and scanned to lender’s solicitor’s, the originals are also sent by special delivery the same day;
  • Completion date.

Clients are also updated at each stage of the transaction by either telephone or email (following their preferred communication).

 

All files are tiered in accordance with complexity:

Tier 1 – Standard Equity Release - where Title Deeds are correct, the property is freehold, encumbered or unencumbered.

Tier 2 – Leasehold Properties - the lender usually requires confirmation ground rent and service charge are paid up to date. We liaise with the management company/freeholder’s solicitor to satisfy lender’s requirements.

  • Transfer of Equity - where there is another party being added or removed from the title.
  • Special Conditions - The lender will add any special conditions required to the mortgage offer. Special conditions must be complied with prior to completion unless the lender will accept an Undertaking or a retention to enable the works to be carried out following completion.

Tier 3 – Equity Release with a Purchase - When acting for Equity Release clients to aid a Purchase, we prefer to act for the client in connection with both transactions as we have full control of the Purchase. When a client instructs a third party to act on their behalf for their conveyancing and we act for the equity release only, we are effectively the “middleman” between the Conveyancing solicitor and the lender’s solicitor. We find this causes unnecessary additional work, delays to the transaction. Gilroy Steel Solicitors with our multiple offices can act on behalf of all parties.

  • Purchase of the Freehold - this is usually where the client only owns the leasehold title, but the property is a house, so this is able to be upgraded to freehold. This can be a lengthy process as we have to liaise with the freeholder’s solicitor.
  • Lease Extensions - are required when the term of the existing lease does not meet the lender’s criteria, this is usually when the current lease is less than 80 years remaining. With both freehold purchases and lease extensions, the client will be liable to pay the freeholder’s legal fees, whether or not the matter proceeds to completion.
  • Probate – if the property has been inherited and is still registered in the deceased party’s name, Probate will be required to enable the property to be assented to the client.
  • Matrimonial - Where the Client and their spouse or civil partner have separated or are separating, the Lender will usually require a formal separation agreement between the parties. Both parties must receive independent legal advice on this document.

Gilroy Steel Solicitors has its own matrimonial department and can fully assist in these matters.

Our aim is to maintain and improve our exceptional client satisfaction results. We request feedback from our clients to be provided.

 

Step 2

Upon receipt of the offer, we contact the client within 24 hours to ascertain their availability for a home visit appointment; booked by our scheduling team.

During the appointment, our Solicitor will verify the client’s ID, review all documentation, and ensure they understand our written advice. The Solicitor will also verify that the client is not under any duress or undue influence, is not vulnerable, and is satisfied the client has mental capacity to proceed with the equity release transaction. Any exceptions are raised with a Director.

The client’s ID will also be checked and scanned during this appointment, while the original signed documents are returned. The lender’s legal pack is then prepared, double-checked, and approved before being forward to the lender’s Solicitor via email to expedite a completion date, with the originals sent by special delivery.

 

Step 3

Gilroy Steel Solicitors actively chase the lender’s Solicitors to achieve completion dates as soon as possible on behalf of the client.

Once the lender’s solicitors are satisfied and are happy to proceed to completion, they will email the completion statement to us. When we’ve received the completion statement, our invoice is prepared and the client is contacted to confirm a full breakdown of the figures including any redemption due to any current lender (including any early repayment charge if applicable) together with confirmation of our legal fees, and advisers fees which are deducted from the proceeds and paid on the day of completion. Once the client is satisfied we obtain their authority to proceed to completion.

What does final completion look like:

On the day of completion, the funds are released to us by the lender’s solicitor’s. Upon receipt we will deduct our fees and the advisers fees and send the balance to the client. We then call the client to confirm completion has taken place and also confirm in writing and send the invoice and completion statement for their retention.

What happens following mortgage completion:

Once completion has taken place, the lender’s solicitor’s deal with the registration formalities and submit their application for their clients charge to be secured against the title. Once registration formalities have been completed the lender will provide the up to date Office Copy Entries which we forward onto the client together with any original documents held on our file. The file is then closed, scanned, and archived.

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