Is your legacy secure?: Yorkshire law firm’s warning over rogue will writers
A will is one of the most important documents you will make in your lifetime. However, there are no legal restrictions on who can prepare a will. Emma Garfitt, Associate Solicitor at Morrish Solicitors explains why you should be aware of rogue will writers.
Where to start?
When you come to write your will, it can be difficult to know where to start and who to contact for the appropriate advice. However, writing one is essential to make sure your wishes are carried out after your death and your family is provided for.
Garfitt says: “Most people will look to a solicitor or will writing service for help. But a lot of people don’t know that unlike many areas of law, will-writing is not a reserved legal activity, which means technically, anyone can offer their services — and there’s no regulation.”
A recent study by the Legal Services Board, a regulator, found that wills and trusts is one of the most common areas of practice among the 208,000 unregulated legal firms currently operating in England and Wales.
Causing costly problems
Unregulated will writers are causing problems for many all over the country, including the old and vulnerable. In some cases, they are drafting inappropriate wills, not providing the correct advice, and taking financial advantage of their clients. Using an unregulated service could prove an expensive error.
Garfitt continues: “Sadly this happens a lot. It was recently reported in the media that an unregulated will writer had appointed himself as executor. He failed to administer the £150,000 estate, meaning not only did the beneficiaries not receive their inheritance, it also cost them £25,000 in solicitors’ fees trying to rectify the situation.”
What are the risks?
Unregulated will writers may not be trained in drafting wills and other legal documents, meaning mistakes can be made that result in a person’s wishes not being carried out. Either that, or they may use standard documents without tailoring them to an individual’s situation.
Garfitt adds: “Unregulated will writers don’t always understand the nature of the documents they are preparing which may have serious consequences, such as clients being given incorrect advice, or incurring avoidable inheritance tax bills. Unfortunately, some will writers will focus more on selling their clients the most expensive products over the most appropriate for that individual.”
There is also no requirement for rogue will writers to have indemnity insurance and they are not regulated by any professional body. If anything goes wrong there is no recourse for a client and it can be costly to correct mistakes.
In some cases, will writers have appointed themselves executors and trustees, this causes problems years later if they have disappeared. It then requires making a court application to have the rogue will writer removed as trustee.
Garfitt concludes: “It is important to realise that not all will writers are regulated or qualified. When instructing someone to prepare your will, make sure you use a regulated specialist to protect you and your family — Morrish Solicitors has been in business 1882 so we have plenty of experience. The firm is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and our whole wills and estates team is fully qualified in will writing.”
Morrish Solicitors wills and estates services can be provided in-person, over the phone or by email or post. Call on 033 3344 9609 or email [email protected]. Alternatively, you can make an appointment at their head office in Leeds city centre , or one of the branches located at 51a High Street in Yeadon and at 9 Lowtown in Pudsey [link to: https://www.morrishsolicitors.com/contact-us/morrish-solicitors-in-pudsey/].