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Panorama highlights dangers of using will writers

Panorama highlights dangers of using will writers

Tonight’s BBC Panorama programme highlights the risks of using a will writing service, instead of instructing a wills solicitor. A recent survey by the Fellowship of Professional Willwriters and Probate Practitioners revealed that 67% of consumers thought that will writers were solicitors. Will writers do not have to undergo any training, are not required to have professional indemnity insurance, and are not subject to regulation. When things go wrong, there is little that can be done to redress the situation.

An inadequate will can cause many problems: it may not provide for those a person wishes it to and it can result in costly probate disputes after someone’s death. An experienced, qualified solicitor can provide proper advice, as well as ensuring that family and financial concerns are considered. 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, often offering wills for a low or discounted fee, and then recommending themselves to be appointed as executors, selling other services without full advice, such as transferring the home into a trust in an attempt to avoid care fees. Terms and conditions can be poorly worded and difficult to understand. In secret filming undertaken by the BBC for the programme, an elderly couple was not told the details of charges which were confusingly set out in writing but then taken away by the will writer.

Jacqueline Almond, Partner at IBB Solicitors and member of Solicitors for the Elderly, says: “This programme highlights the potential for getting it wrong without full legal advice. It can be very costly to undo after your death and can leave your family in disarray when they have to pick up the pieces as problems generally only come to light after you have died.”

IBB Solicitors’ Wills, Trusts and Probate team can provide specialist wills advice. For more information contact Jacqueline, a member of the team or call 01494 790007.