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In this week’s Panorama programme, presenter Vivian White highlighted the risks in using a will writing service. Many people are under the false impression a ‘will writer’ is a solicitor, but unlike a solicitor they do not have to undergo any training, have insurance, and are not regulated by any organisation which ensures that they conduct their activities in the interests of the consumer and provide some form of redress, if things go wrong. If they go out of business, there is little that can be done - sometimes the will cannot be found, even where charges have been made for storing it.
The lack of regulation has enabled many will writers to adopt high pressure selling techniques which was illustrated in the programme, 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.
The fear of solicitors costs, prompts some people to use will writers. Linda Rees commented, “Solicitor’s are required to set out in writing the basis of their charges, and in many cases wills are undertaken for a fixed fee with free storage of wills and other documents.” Recent research by the consumer group, Which? found that the average fee for will drafted by a solicitor was £130, compared to a will writer of £107.
Linda Rees said, “This programme highlights the potential for getting it wrong without full legal advice and the need for proper regulation of will writers. It can be very costly to undo after you have gone and can leave your family in disarray when they have to pick up the pieces as problems generally only come to light when you have died.”
Should you require any assistance please contact Linda Rees on 01952 810307 or Davina Cole on 01743 285888
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