Does it matter if your will writer is a solicitor or not?
Nobody likes thinking about what will happen when they’re gone, and writing a will is a task that is often put off until another day. The prospect of allocating your estate to loved ones is often perceived to be a difficult one, and so it is no surprise that professional will writing companies have sprung up across the country, offering to help you arrange your estate for a fee. Up to 180,000 people every year use these unregulated will writing services. Some of these companies do offer value for money, but the major problem is that they are unregulated. This has meant that companies who are unscrupulous have sprung up, charging high fees for what can be done for a reasonable price by a solicitor. Even if these companies have honest intentions, they are often not qualified solicitors and are certainly not regulated. In England and Wales, anybody can set up as a will writer, and so these companies are legal.
Some of the horror stories about these unscrupulous will writing companies are unbelievable. Some wills are badly drafted, with errors in them; some companies have even put pressure on customers to name them as executors of the will; there have been instances of customers going to complete a will, but being pushed into buying other products as a result of a hard sell by the person that they’ve dealt with; some companies have written wills, only for them to disappear and take the will with them; and the price being much higher than the original quote, in one instance a £35 quotation turned into a £3000 bill! One family, whose parents had used a will writing service, saw the will declared invalid because it had been drawn up incorrectly by an incompetent will writer.
The figures speak for themselves. In 2006, the Law Society conducted a national survey of 443 members who specialised in wills and probates: the results were that sixty per cent of people asked believed that will writing companies were growing in numbers, and seventy per cent said that some of their clients had reported having problems with will writers. The legal ombudsmen investigated almost 400 cases of will writing in 2010, thirteen per cent of all the cases that were referred to the ombudsmen in that year.
Using a solicitor is a much safer option: they are regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, and so are more accountable. Solicitors, by the fact that they are regulated, are also insured to write wills so if something should go wrong, it is easily rectified, whereas using a private company does not offer the same cover. This means that families and friends have often been left picking up the pieces when things have gone wrong: there is no protection. Solicitors are also trained properly, and so can write the will professionally and correctly. Using a company like Leaders for Law means that your estate will be properly protected, and your wishes will be seen through. Some people think that using a solicitor as a will writer might be more expensive, but this is not necessarily the case. You can be guaranteed that the cost that you are quoted will be the one that you pay, and also you can be reassured that your estate will be distributed in the way that you would want.