Why is my solicitor being so nosy about the source of my deposit?

I am buying my first flat and my solicitor is fussing about the law firm acting for the seller. Are all these questions and investigations really necessary?
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Question: I am buying my first flat and my solicitor is fussing about the law firm acting for the seller. He is having difficulty finding out about them and is concerned about a spelling mistake on their headed notepaper.

In addition, I am only borrowing £150,000 and putting in £300,000, but he is questioning where my money came from. My granny left it to me. Are all these questions and investigations really necessary? My solicitor won't proceed until these issues are resolved.

Answer: Your solicitor is subject to strict anti-money laundering regulations. As you are a first-time buyer, he will wonder how you managed to save £300,000 — so explain about your inheritance. When the money was paid to you by the executors of your grandmother's estate, or by their solicitors, I expect they sent you a letter, either with the cheque or to confirm the funds had been paid into your account.

Let your solicitor see any such letter or other confirmation of payment to you, and also a copy of your bank statement showing the funds were paid in. If this documentation still doesn't satisfy him,he should have enough information to make any further investigations he considers necessary to satisfy himself regarding the source of the £300,000.

He is right to be concerned about the identity of the seller's law firm. Criminals are setting up bogus law firms in order to steal money. Your solicitor must be sure he is paying the money to a genuine firm, not a fraud who will steal your money and any mortgage funds. The mistake on the headed notepaper prompted him to be extra diligent. He will be checking the firm and the individual acting for the seller with the Law Society and other agencies, and should only proceed when satisfied the seller's legal representatives are genuine.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a partner in the residential property, farms and estates team at Withy King LLP (withyking.co.uk).

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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