Timely article on deceased estates

I was completely dumbfounded by the replies I received from the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services and operational procedures purported to be standard practices in Malta

I am a Maltese-born Australian migrant who happened to be in Malta for the last month. From a professional background, I have worked in the financial services industry for more than 25 years in Australia and was quite surprised, and annoyed by what my family was going through with BOV in attempting to access the funds after my uncle passed away more than 14 months ago.

I was so enraged by BOV’s behaviour and lack of respect for the old and vulnerable, that I decided to contact the Financial Ombudsman. Cutting a long story short, I was handballed to another organisation, and then again to finally speak to Geoffrey Bezzina at the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services.

The matter is conveniently now resolved after I had been formally pursuing the matter with Mr Bezzina and your timely article (‘Notaries miffed at nightmarish delays in BOV succession processing’, 15 January). It was simply music to my ears – thank you.

Having experienced matters associated with deceased estates (that’s what we call the service in Australia) with the passing of my father last year, my financial services experience in compliance, specifically in this very area – and seeing the stark difference in the way Maltese banks, particularly BOV, handle these matters – is an eye-opener; to a point that I will find a way to reach the appropriate authorities and the Prime Minister, if need be, to share my experience.

I was completely dumbfounded by the replies I received from the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services and operational procedures purported to be standard practices in Malta. Although not relevant to my family’s situation, I found it interesting and still cannot believe (although I didn’t have the time to research and validate) that a joint account held by a deceased person and partner (often husband and wife) could be frozen, pending such an archaic procedure.

I question as to whether this is factually Maltese law/bank policy or simply “always done that way” and not challenged.

Mark Bonello, Australia

Bank reassures general public

The Notarial Council of Malta and Bank of Valletta’s Legal Section in reference to the article published in MaltaToday on Sunday, 8 January, 2017 (Notaries miffed at ‘nightmarish’ delay in BOV succession processing), would like to reassure the general public and esteemed BOV customers, that both entities are working together to guarantee a seamless and timely service.

Whilst regretting any inconvenience that may have been caused in isolated cases, the bank and the council confirm that consultation is ongoing to ensure that measures are implemented on both sides to actively and effectively address all issues.

The bank would also like to encourage its customers to make use of its customer support services on +35621312020 or https://www.bov.com/content/get-in-touch-with-us 

Joyce Tabone, Media and Community Relations, Bank of Valletta

Faith and religious happiness

St Teresa of Lisieux
St Teresa of Lisieux

I would like to inform John Guillaumier that religious happiness is a reality which can be acquired during one’s lifetime.

St Teresa of Lisieux’s short lifespan of 24 years provides us with a perfect example of extending a gentle word, friendship and a smile whenever the opportunity arises.

The other Teresa Margaret of 23 years was locked in her room kneeling in prayer when two exceptionally beautiful young men (angels) appeared by her side. As she was about to speak to them, one of them said to her: “Anna Maria, always be cheerful and happy, for Jesus is to be your spouse”. The child’s heart flooded with sweetness throughout her short life.

But why delve into distant past mystics’ lives when I can quote Pope Francis’ exhortation to 6,000 novices and seminarians on July 6, 2013:

I like to see a happy face on priests and not a long, sad face that gives the impression that someone has thrown a sodden heavy blanket over their lives.  And the Church itself must be neither a “well organized” NGO nor a “grandmother” or “old spinster” but a fertile, welcoming, caressing mother. The same goes for the faithful.  Unlike those who “seem to have an air of Lent without Easter about them”, a Christian cannot be sad.  Since life can be very hard, one has to allow the joy of faith to awaken “like a ray of light that springs from the personal certainty of being infinitely lived beyond anything” by the Lord.  “Tears are glassed for seeing Jesus.”

Or later on November 26:  When we are close to the Lord, we will have joy in our heart and a smile on our lips because He gives us life in abundance.

John Azzopardi, Zabbar