In this week’s Panorama programme, presenter Vivian White highlighted the risks of using a will writing service, instead of instructing a solicitor. Many people are under the false impression ‘will writers’ are qualified solicitors. In fact, a recent survey by the Fellowship of Professional Will Writers and Probate Practitioners revealed that 67% of consumers thought that will writers were solicitors.
Unlike a solicitor will writers do not have to undergo any training, are not required to have professional indemnity insurance, and are not regulated by any organisation which ensures that they conduct their activities in the interests of the consumer and provide some form of redress, if things go wrong. If they go out of business, there is little that can be done- sometimes the Will cannot be found, even where charges have been made for storing it.
An inadequate Will can cause many problems, it may not provide for the people it is intended to and as such can result in costly probate dispute’s after someone’s death. It can be very costly to resolve matters after your death and can leave your family in disarray having to pick up the pieces, as problems generally only come to light when you have died. An experienced, qualified solicitor can provide proper advice. A solicitor will have professional indemnity insurance and be regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
The lack of regulation has enabled many will writers to adopt high pressure selling techniques which was illustrated in the programme, often offering wills for low or discounted fees, whilst recommending that they be appointed as executors, and selling other services without full advice, such as transferring the home into a trust in an attempt to avoid care fees.
The programme highlighted the potential for getting it wrong without full legal advice and the need for proper regulation of will writers.
Hine Solicitors’ Wills, probate and trusts department can provide specialist Wills advice. For more information please contact us