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How to find the right equity release solicitor

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By Richard Groom • 19 December 2022 • 8 min read

Why you will need a solicitor specialising in equity release

If you are in the process of unlocking some tax-free money from your home with equity release, you’ll need to appoint an equity release solicitor. A search online will reveal many local and national firms, so how do you know which one to choose? Read our guide to understand why you need to find solicitors specialising in equity release and how to find one.

In this article we will be discussing:

  • Why do I need an equity release solicitor?
  • What do equity release solicitors do?
  • Do I need to meet my equity release solicitor face-to-face?
  • How do I find an equity release solicitor?
  • Can I use equity release solicitors near me?
  • Solicitors recommended by our partners
  • How much are solicitors’ fees for equity release?

Why do I need an equity release solicitor?

The Equity Release Council requires all equity release providers to ensure their customers receive independent legal advice before taking out a plan. Your solicitors will provide a vital service for you once you receive your offer from your chosen provider. 

In addition to carrying out all the legal work required as your plan progresses, your equity release solicitor will ensure that you are fully aware of the legal requirements, risks and benefits of a plan. Appointing a solicitor to act on your behalf will provide peace of mind that you have that extra safeguard in place during your equity release journey. 

Your equity release solicitor will work for you, rather than your lender, to ensure your case progresses smoothly to completion. Thanks to their experience in the industry, they will be able to foresee any issues which might slow your case down or require extra consideration. 

Remember, your equity release solicitor is not able to provide equity release quotations or arrange your plan for you. Only qualified equity release advisers can do this for you. Once you have received your offer from your chosen provider, then your adviser can help you find a solicitor specialising in equity release, or you can search for one yourself.

Are you currently in the process of finding out more about equity release? If so, our selected advisers would be delighted to answer your questions and produce as many quotes as you need. Call us today on 0808 178 3055 or click here to request a free call back.

What do equity release solicitors do?

Once you have received a formal offer from your lender to lend you the money, it’s over to your chosen equity release solicitors to handle the legal side of things. They will begin with some initial questionnaires to gather all the relevant information before getting started. 

The process they follow will differ depending on which firm you choose and what sort of equity release plan you select: a lifetime mortgage or a home reversion plan. The most popular type of plan is a lifetime mortgage. If you should choose this plan type, your legal journey may resemble something similar to the following:

  • Receive your welcome pack: This will provide you with information explaining the services your solicitor will provide. At this point you may also receive some paperwork to complete, including a form to confirm that you accept your solicitors’ quotation and wish to instruct them to represent you.
  • Bank details check: You will be sent a form to confirm your bank details which must be completed and returned to your equity release solicitors. In addition to helping with fraud checks, the information will be needed for when your money is transferred to your account on completion.
  • Check of title deeds: Your equity release solicitor will review a copy of your title deeds from HM Land Registry to check the relevant information about your home.
  • Face-to-face meeting: It is a requirement that you have at least one face-to-face meeting with a solicitor before your case can complete. Your solicitor may use this meeting as an opportunity to carry out the necessary I.D. checks to comply with the Government’s Money Laundering Regulations, as overseen by the Financial Conduct Authority. Your solicitor will tell you which forms of I.D. you need to provide. Once checked, these will be sent to your lender’s solicitors for their records.
  • Final checks: After your mortgage deeds have been signed, your equity release solicitor will carry out their final checks and review the whole case. Some final queries might be raised at this point, so your solicitors may have a bit of to-ing and fro-ing with your lender’s solicitor to iron out the final details. Solicitors specialising in equity release offer a wealth of experience which can really pay off when it gets to this stage. In addition to knowing what questions to ask you at the outset, they’ll know what your lender and their solicitors are looking for and will be ready for them. 
  • Completion: When your funds are paid out by your equity release provider they will go straight to your solicitor’s account. If you are settling your outstanding mortgage or other secured loans against your home with the money then your solicitor will take care of this for you. They will also pay any fees due, for example, their own legal fees or any agreed fees owed to your provider. The remaining monies will then be paid directly to your bank account to spend how you wish.

Do I need to meet my equity release solicitor face-to-face?

Yes, all plans offered by members of the Equity Release Council require you to have at least one face-to-face meeting with a solicitor in order to be accepted. As you are required to meet with your solicitor before your plan completes, it may be beneficial to choose a solicitor that is within easy travelling distance.

Perhaps you have a friend or relative who completed their plan recently but did not meet face-to-face with an equity release solicitor? This may have been due to the pandemic, during which a temporary amendment was made to the rules.

This meant that between April 2020 and April 2022, cases could still progress using a combination of written and telephone or video call advice. This allowed customers to continue accessing vital funds during a time of repeated lockdowns and social distancing measures. 

With regulations now back to pre-pandemic levels, you will be able to benefit from face-to-face advice with your solicitors dealing with equity release. You’ll be able to ask any questions, find out what happens next and sign your mortgage deeds.

How do I find an equity release solicitor?

To help find reliable solicitors specialising in equity release, you may want to speak to people you know who have used one before. As with most things, a recommendation from someone you know and trust is often a good starting point.

Alternatively, at Equity Release Wise, our selected advisers can recommend a reliable equity release solicitor for you if you wish. These solicitors will have seen many equity release cases through to completion, so their wealth of experience may help things progress more quickly for you.

You can also search for ‘equity release solicitors near me’ using the Equity Release Council’s Solicitors Search function. You’ll be able to search for an approved Equity Release Council solicitor as close as five miles away from your specified postcode.

If you are wondering “should I choose an equity release solicitor near me?” then it depends on how far you are willing to travel for your face-to-face meeting. As you’ll have to meet with your solicitor at least once, you may want to select a firm that has an office in an achievable travelling distance for you.

Our selected advisers offer a comprehensive panel of specialist solicitors with extensive experience in equity release cases. Contact us today to speak to an adviser about your eligibility for a plan – they can handle everything for you from start to completion. Call  0808 178 3055 now or click here to arrange a free call back.

Can I use my regular solicitor?

You might have a preferred solicitor that you have used in the past or who you know personally. If you do, you may want them to handle your equity release case, so you should mention them to your adviser. He or she will be able to check with your lender that your preferred firm is an approved equity release solicitor

They will also be able to check that they meet their requirements. For instance, much like with a standard mortgage, your lender is likely to expect that the law firm you choose has a minimum of 3 or 4 solicitors/partners. If you have an equity release solicitor in mind who does not meet this requirement then you may need to find another firm to act on your behalf.

Equity release solicitors recommended by our partners

When you come to Equity Release Wise, we will connect you with our team of carefully selected advisers who can expertly guide and support you through the entire process. This includes, if you wish, referring you to a solicitor specialising in equity release when you get to that stage of your journey.

Thanks to their years of experience in the industry, our partners are able to suggest a number of equity release solicitors with offices in your area.

Of course, providing your chosen solicitor meets the requirements of your lender then you are free to select whichever equity release solicitor you wish. This may or may not be one of the ones your adviser recommends to you. The suggestions made by your adviser are simply to help you find a tried and trusted firm more quickly and easily.

How much are solicitors’ fees for equity release?

Equity release solicitors’ fees vary depending on the solicitor you choose and how complex your case is. As a guideline, their fees are typically between £650 – £800 including VAT.

After you receive your offer from your chosen provider, your adviser can recommend a firm to you to see your case through to completion. The solicitors will provide you with a full breakdown of legal costs that you could expect if you were to instruct them.

When checking over any quotations that you are sent, you may want to check that your solicitors’ fees for equity release cover:

  • Legal advice
  • Bank transfer charges
  • Checks for money laundering
  • Land Registry Office copy entries
  • VAT

Your quotation for equity release solicitors’ fees may detail additional costs (known as disbursements) which might apply according to your individual circumstances. For instance, you might need to add someone to or remove someone from your title deeds, or you may need to extend the lease on your leasehold property.

This below list covers some examples of extra work that may be required:

  • Dealing with a leasehold or unregistered property
  • Obtaining a lease extension
  • Dealing with a mortgage shortfall
  • Dealing with additional occupiers at your property who are not party to the application
  • Removal or addition of title holders
  • Removal of multiple title charges

Speak to an adviser

If you are yet to receive advice about equity release, then speaking to a specialist is the ideal next step. There are many benefits to equity release but some serious considerations too. Equity Release Wise’s selected advisers will tell you if they think there is a better alternative for you. 

For additional peace of mind, the initial advice you receive will be free of charge. This means you can ask as many questions as you want and get as many quotations as you need from our panel of selected advisers to find the best plan for you. If you do decide to go ahead with a plan then you will pay a fee for advice at completion – your adviser will explain this to you during your application process.

And of course, once your adviser has helped you find the perfect plan then they’ll be able to recommend a reliable equity release solicitor to expertly complete your case. It’s all part of the service.

Find out how much you could unlock and what plan might work best for you. Call us today on 0808 178 3055 or arrange a free call back by clicking here.

How can we help?

To find out more about equity release or arrange a consultation with an adviser, please call or request a call back and we’ll be happy to help further.

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