Equity release solicitors

Find out whether you need an equity release solicitor, how to find one and how much it's likely to cost in fees.

An equity release solicitor is a lawyer who advises and represents you when you take out an equity release loan, and most lenders require that you have one. The solicitor should offer independent legal advice and guidance, and ensure that you understand the implications of getting an equity release. Here’s what you need to know about who these lawyers are and what they do.

What does an equity release solicitor do?

An equity release solicitor doesn’t offer financial advice, and generally only becomes involved in the equity release process once your application has been approved by the lender. Your equity release solicitor will do the following:

  1. Check and verify your identity. This is to comply with anti-money laundering laws, and means you’ll need to meet them face to face and provide personal ID.
  2. Arrange and check your paperwork. It is the job of your solicitor to confirm you have the correct property paperwork, such as title deeds and buildings insurance, and any existing mortgage.
  3. Agree on the loan completion date and funds transfer. Once your solicitor is happy with your paperwork, they will liaise with the lender to confirm the loan, and also arrange the money is transferred to you.

Do you need a solicitor for equity release?

The Equity Release Council (ERC) requires that all equity release applicants obtain independent legal advice when taking out a loan. As most equity release lenders are members of the ERC, this means that you’ll need to get a solicitor if you want to apply for equity release.

More importantly, having an equity release solicitor will help ensure you understand the full legal implications of your loan agreement, and also give you legal protection.

How much are solicitors’ fees for equity release?

Equity release solicitors’ costs will vary based on the solicitor you use, as well as the complexity of your equity release agreement, but typically cost between £700 and £1,000. This fee should cover the following costs:

  • Legal advice
  • Anti-money laundering checks
  • VAT
  • Land registry documents
  • Bank transfer fees

However, it’s important to confirm this with your solicitor, and make sure that you’re aware of any other potential fees or charges. This could include for services like:

  • Transferring a property
  • Bankruptcy or county court judgements (CCJs)
  • Changes to the title deed
  • Property sale
  • Third party lawyers

Many solicitors will also offer a “no completion, no fee” guarantee, which means you won’t be charged if your equity release loan doesn’t go ahead.

How do you choose an equity release solicitor?

When finding an equity release solicitor, it’s important to choose someone that you can trust and can also answer any questions you may have.

  1. Ask your friends or family. If you know anyone who has previously taken out an equity release loan, you could ask them which solicitor they used.
  2. Ask your financial adviser. Your equity release adviser will likely have experience working with solicitors, and may be able to recommend one.
  3. Do your own research. Search online for equity release solicitors and look at their reviews and testimonials.
  4. Search Equity Release Council members. The ERC has a search function on its website that lets you search for registered equity release solicitors.

When should you involve an equity release solicitor?

An equity release solicitor normally becomes involved in the process once you’ve been offered an equity release loan by your lender. At this point, your solicitor will then carry out the required legal checks and help prepare your paperwork so that you can sign your loan agreement.

However, you may wish to enlist the services of a solicitor earlier in the process, especially if your situation is complicated by things like trusts and property sales.

Bottom line

Getting an equity release solicitor is an important part of the equity release process and can help ensure you have proper legal protection. While equity release solicitor fees can be relatively expensive, the benefit is that you’ll get significant peace of mind. But it’s a cost you’ll need to factor in when considering equity release.

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