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Solicitors for the Elderly Call For Urgent Regulation of Will Writing

Solicitors for the Elderly fears thousands of people are putting themselves at risk of being cheated by unscrupulous salesmen who offer to write their wills but who are not adequately qualified, trained or insured.

Last month the UK’s Legal Ombudsman highlighted dangers of using Will writing companies to Make Wills. This week The One Show also called for Will writing to be regulated to protect the public. A recent survey showed that 67% of consumers wrongly believe that all Will writers are solicitors and 82% of the 1,000 people polled thoughts that training and qualifications are required before someone can become a Will writer. In fact anyone can write a Will for payment.

Jenny Pierce, Head of Wills, Wealth & Mental Capacity at Wards Solicitors, said, “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, 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.

The fear of solicitors costs, prompts some people to use will writers. 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.

The potential for getting it wrong, without full legal advice, is huge, hence 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.”

Jenny went on to support the views of Solicitors for the Elderly by saying, “We need new regulations to help protect the consumer, particularly older and vulnerable people. We’re proud to be members of Solicitors for the Elderly and promote responsible practice within this important area.”

Notes:

  1. Solicitors for the Elderly is the UK association of solicitors, legal executives and barristers who provide specialist advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers.
  2. In many cases wills are undertaken for a fixed fee with free storage of wills and other documents.
  3. Solicitors for the Elderly members must follow its Code of Practice so you can be sure:
  • You will be treated with dignity and respect.
  • They will ensure all practicable steps are taken to maximise decision making potential, particularly if you are compromised by physical, emotional and mental difficulties, such as hearing and visual difficulties and will take this into account when communicating, for example correspondence and documents can be produced in large print or Braille.
  • They will endeavour to follow a plain English policy and communicate in easy, understandable language, avoiding legal terminology unless necessary.
  • They will provide written details of charges.
  • They will try to ensure ease of access and parking if you are less mobile.
  • Where appropriate, they will offer home visits as an alternative to a visit to the office. Any arrangement will be at a mutually agreed time and cost.
  • In the interest of your personal security, they will operate appropriate measures, such as identification passes or passwords.
  • They will provide written details of how to complain.

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