The Nightmare of Unregulated, Uninsured, Unqualified Will Writers
Law Society President, Robert Heslett, says: “Solicitors know so many cases of people who have turned to them for help after being left with what can only be described as nightmare wills by will writers, many of which are not worth the paper they are written on. This is a widespread trend. We hear many stories of unregulated, uninsured will writers misleading too many people as to their supposed but absent expertise.
“What is most worrying is that their victims are often unaware that their will writers are not regulated, nor is there any mechanism for complaint. As the will writer is not insured, there is no means of redress if things go wrong.”
The public can be mislead because they use the word ‘legal’ in their advertisements despite the fact they are not legally qualified.
The Law Society research found that some will writers were advertising low cost wills, but that in reality the customer was given a much larger bill at the end of the process.
In some cases, will writers were appointing themselves as executors and offering related legal services for which they were not trained or regulated, such as powers of attorney, obtaining probate, conveyancing and even tax advice, at an additional cost.
Other cases involved the will writing company being wound up and disappearing with all of their clients’ will documents, or family members being left out of a will against the wishes of the client.
Robert Heslett says: “There may be rare instances when the solicitors get it wrong, but the difference between a solicitor and a will writer is that they are legally trained, robustly regulated and are covered by indemnity insurance, which provides recompense to clients. Most will writers are not insured.”
The Law Society’s findings come soon after the publication of the Lord Hunt review of regulation of legal services. Lord Hunt’s findings included concerns raised by what he referred to as a “fringe legal market” in will writing, probate and claims handling, which exposed the public to a growing risk. The Law Society reminds everyone to use a solicitor. Whatever your question they are qualified to answer.
Robert Heslett adds: “Sadly, the feedback the Law Society has received from solicitors who are sorting out the mistakes left by will writers is just the tip of the iceberg.
“Anyone wishing to write a will should seek the services of a solicitor, otherwise they risk a will which reflects nothing of their wishes. We also urge anyone who has used a will writer to check the accuracy and suitability of their will with a solicitor before it is too late and they leave their loved ones with unnecessary problems.”