Using Solicitors is always the best option when making your Will
The Government and the Lord Chancellor have decided not to accept the recommendation of the Legal Services Board that will-writing activities should be made subject to regulation.
The LSB’s recommendations, made in February this year, concluded a two year investigation under section 24 of the Legal Services Act 2007 which found comprehensive evidence that the market is working contrary to the interests of consumers who use these critical services. The Law Society had campaigned for wills, estate administration and powers of attorney to be regulated.
Will writers will remain unregulated despite the concerns of the leading organisations dealing with this often complex and technical legal work. These companies are often set up by those with little more than an afternoon’s training, a folder of precedent clauses and without adequate or any insurance should something go wrong and absolutely no governing body to protect the consumer if they cease to trade or a mistake is made.
Chairman of the Legal Services Board, David Edmonds said: “Naturally we are disappointed by the Government’s decision. However it is their decision alone to make and we will study the details and respond in due course”.
Desmond Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society said: "Consumers have been let down by this deeply disappointing decision. We provided plenty of evidence to the LSB, demonstrating that consumers are at real risk from certain unregulated will writers who can be incompetent, untrained and uninsured. Thanks to the Government’s decision today, unregulated providers can carry on writing wholly unsuitable wills, leaving consumers without any recourse when things go wrong as a result."
The Law Society Gazette reported some time ago that 'more than 1,000 files containing wills and other confidential information were recently found dumped on the pavement outside a will writing company'. Apparently the files were left by staff from a will writing company that had ceased trading.
We have recently had to advise a client that a homemade will under which he was named as Executor and sole beneficiary was invalid because the will prepared by an unregulated will writer had not been witnessed correctly. The estate will have to be dealt with under the Rules of Intestacy which means that our client will now receive absolutely nothing!
Under Financial Conduct Authority rules if consumers want to invest, for example, £1,000, then any advice about this investment is a regulated activity that requires advisers to pass exams and maintain high compliance standards. However, anyone could still write a will that might have a disastrous effect on a family’s finances and might not remotely reflect the client’s true intentions.
Solicitors are of course highly qualified, strictly regulated and are obliged to have very comprehensive insurance cover. Asking a solicitor to deal with the preparation of your will need not be a daunting or expensive process, and you will have the benefit of knowing that your will has been drawn up to specifically deal with your circumstances.
Jayne Parsons is Head of the Estate Planning Department at BHW Solicitors in Leicester and regularly writes on estate planning issues. Jayne can be contacted on 0116 281 6238 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.