Well, we’re sorry to hear that your grandfather died, but as for the inheritance, that’s a nice problem to have!
A surprising number of people prefer to keep cash rather than use banks and building societies. The risk is, of course, that the savings can be stolen, destroyed in a fire or simply forgotten. In your case, the cash has survived, but because the notes are out of date they are no longer legal tender.
Most High Street banks and building societies will exchange withdrawn notes for a short period after the withdrawal – usually only six months.
After that, the notes will have to be taken or sent to the Bank of England. There is no time limit here, as all withdrawn Bank of England banknotes remain payable at face value for all time. Having said that, if the notes are very old, you might be better selling them to collectors via a specialist auction house (e.g. Spink & Son Ltd). An old 1952 white £5 note now makes around £70 each at auction.
Wherever you exchange out-of-date currency, you may be required to provide identification (photo ID such as a passport, drivers licence, national identity card etc. and proof of residence such as a utility bill, tax bill or bank statement) when exchanging your notes. This is to comply with anti-money laundering regulations. It will certainly apply to sums over £1,000.
For larger amounts in your situation, it might be best to take a copy of the Will to explain how you came to be in possession of the money. It might be wise to also show that any Inheritance Tax due has been paid.
If they are concerned about the origin of the money, at the Bank’s discretion, banknotes may be retained at any value in order for additional checks to take place; you may be required to provide further identification and provide additional information or evidence to support the stated origin of the banknotes.
Basically, this means you need a reasonable explanation of how your grandfather acquired the money. Provided he didn’t have a criminal record for bank robbery, you’re probably fine!
To exchange your banknotes in person take them to the following address:
Bank of England
London, EC2R 8AH
For smaller amounts, you may be issued with new currency on the same day. For larger amounts you will be given a receipt and the Bank will credit your bank account typically within 10 days. If you require cash, they will make an appointment for you to collect the cash.
Enjoy your inheritance!
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