The government is considering proposals to regulate the practice of Will writing, following a request from the Legal Services Board. Due to a lack of regulation Will Writers with no technical qualifications, negligence insurance or continuity arrangements continue to practice Will writing.
The Legal Services Board has encouraged regulation to reduce what the Board says are “significant risks that consumers currently face” when using unregulated Will Writers. The request by the Board is intended to bring regulation of will writers in line with that of Solicitors.
When people make Wills their aim is to reduce risk. A Will helps ensure that someone’s estate will pass as they would wish after their death; providing support to families, friends and charities.
Anyone can set him or herself up as a Will Writer. The lack of restrictions on the business of Will Writing means that Will Writers have a lack of technical qualifications.
A properly drafted Will ensures property and assets are inherited by those you wish, allowing you to make provisions for children and express your funeral wishes. The consequences of a poorly drafted Will are significant and far-reaching.
These Will Writers provide Wills at competitive prices, charging from £85 for single Will. The widespread use of hidden fees by Will Writers, such as review charges and storage fees, escalate this cost. Will Writers often quote around £20 per annum for storage of a Will at the National Wills Safe, while a local Solicitor will often store a Will free of charge.
It is during the process of estate administration that fraud and theft from estates can occur. The Law Society has warned that “consumers risk losing everything if they allow unregulated and unqualified will writers to have full control of their estate’s assets”.
Will Writing companies lack sufficient arrangements in place should the company cease trading, which may mean that your file is lost.
For true peace of mind please ensure that whoever writes your will is regulated by the professional governing body the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Solicitors are tightly regulated by the SRA, ensuring that wills are produced to the highest professional standards and worth the paper they are written on.
While Will Writing Companies are often members of the Institute of Professional Will Writers, this is not a regulatory body and cannot offer the same level of consumer protection as that provided by the SRA. This could leave you with nowhere to turn should things go wrong.
The unregulated service offered by Will Writers leaves the public unprotected from abuse in this vital area.
Julie Indaco-Plumb is a member of our Wills and Probate Department at FM&C Solicitors and may be contacted on +44 (0)7462 441184 or + 44 (0)1440 761 200.