Unregulated Will writing services

There has been widespread dismay amongst consumer groups at the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s rejection of the recommendation by the Legal Services Board that Will writing should be regulated – see our earlier article for what that means.  The LSB had recommended regulation in a report submitted in February 2013 because of concerns about the quality, sustainability and lack of consumer protection. Grayling accepted the need for improvements but is quoted as having said “further efforts should be made to see if measures can be made more effective before resorting to reservation”. In contrast one commentator who campaigns for access to justice wrote that he had “not only ignored overwhelming evidence of significant consumer detriment but cocked an almighty snook in the direction of the broad consensus calling for regulation.”

The consumer group Which? says on its website: “Will writers are an alternative to solicitors, but unlike solicitors they don’t have to be qualified or regulated.” and “The main benefit of going to a solicitor is that you can discuss face to face what you want the will to achieve.” In addition, solicitors are qualified and regulated so “If something goes wrong, you or your dependants have access to redress through the relevant body’s complaints service and compensation fund.” The Citizen’s Advice Bureau also says “It is generally advisable to use a solicitor or to have a solicitor check a will you have drawn up to make sure it will have the effect you want. This is because it is easy to make mistakes and, if there are errors in the will, this can cause problems after your death. Sorting out misunderstandings and disputes after your death may result in considerable legal costs, which will reduce the amount of money in the estate.”

Unregulated Will writers may be incompetent, untrained and uninsured. An article in the Guardian “Writing a will – the right way”  in February 2013 said: “Alternatively, you could hire a low-cost will writing service. But be careful if you do, because unregulated will writers have been accused of ripping off consumers”. The same article comments “Using a qualified solicitor may be cheaper than you think.” Some Will writers advertise headline cut price offers, but may charge for additional services and end up being more expensive than solicitors.

Lawyers at Harris & Harris are not just qualified and regulated, they have years of specialist experience, and are members of specialist bodies like STEP.

Contact  Annemarie Swainson or Joshua Eva