Rogue Will Writers
A Will is one of the most important legal documents you can make. It allows you to decide how your assets are divided and distributed after you have died. It speaks for you at a time when you cannot speak for yourself.
I cannot stress enough the importance of making your Will with a qualified, and regulated, professional. Someone with the necessary training and experience to make a Will that is not only sound from a legal perspective but one that also fits your actual personal circumstances.
Throughout my career as a Solicitor, I have seen huge amounts of clients who have suffered at the hands of unregulated Will writers. These companies hold themselves out to be professionals but in reality, they are mainly not qualified Solicitors and are therefore not regulated and not monitored to ensure they meet a required professional standard.
Problems caused by Will Writers
Some of the problems I have come across when Will writers have been involved are:
- Errors in the Will drafting which materially change the client’s wishes, so that their wishes are not carried out correctly. All too often the Will is just completely wrong from a legal point of view, and drafted badly.
- Clients who have been talked in to transferring their homes into Lifetime Trusts with the promise of saving care fees, without these trusts (or any of the Tax implications of them) being properly explained to them. Most of these clients have no idea that they have actually given away their house. The worst thing is that these do not work for saving care fees because giving away your assets to avoid care home fees is a ‘Deliberate Deprivation’ of your assets and so can just fail to protect you from care fees on this basis.
- Wills that on the face of it seem ok, but when you speak to the client you realise that the Will has just been prepared as a standard form and therefore doesn’t actually fit the client or their needs. Wills need to be custom designed. One size does not fit all.
- Rogue Will writers who have deceived the client and stolen funds. In one case the client informed me that their Will writer had been imprisoned for this, but that did not help with getting the client their money back, nor assist with trying to unravel the problems that had been caused in their estate.
- Will Writers who have appointed themselves as Executor and Trustees without explaining to the client what this entails. On the death of the first spouse, their houses are often transferred into the name of the Will writer to hold as Trustee, and this so often causes problems years later when the second spouse dies and the Will writer can no longer be found. A firm of Solicitors is backed by the Law Society so that you know you will always be in good hands, even if your Solicitor retires. Will writers can just pop up and disappear at random, so you have no long-term peace of mind.
If something goes wrong, as it so often does, they are often hard to locate or if found, they are often unresponsive to requests to rectify their errors. In addition, many of these companies do not have any indemnity insurance to insure them if mistakes are made, forcing these companies just to go out of business (and then often starting up again weeks later under a different name!). This leaves you unprotected when errors are made.
Many countries regulate their Will writing industry, but sadly England is not one of these. This leads many falling victim to rogue will writers.
This article from the telegraph shows just how badly people can be affected by rogue Will writers. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/rogue-will-writer-stole-150000-friend/
Always use a Firm of Solicitors to make a will
I urge you to always use a firm of Solicitors to make a Will. Even if it isn’t our firm, please ensure you use a proper law firm, and not just a will writing company. These companies may promise you the world, but in reality they rarely deliver a service to the same high standard as a firm of Solicitors.
If you are unsure which firm of Solicitors to use for your Will, seeking advice from an @SFELawyer or a STEP-qualified lawyer helps ensure your wishes are carried out in the event of your death. These are professional bodies that a lawyer has to qualify to join by passing exams and demonstrating a high degree of knowledge and expertise.
To ensure that your Will is made to the very best standard, Keelys Private Client Department is made up exclusively of professionally qualified and highly experienced individuals. More about our team can be found here
If you feel you have already fallen prey to a rogue Will writer, please contact us for further assistance.
Mrs Helen Jolly
About the writer: – a Solicitor who qualified in 2009, and has dedicated her career to Private Client matters including Wills, Trusts, Lasting Powers, Probate of Estates, Intestacy, Inheritance Tax Planning, and Care planning. She has been a member of the Solicitors for the Elderly (Solicitors for the Elderly | SFE) since 2012 and is a Fully Accredited Member, having most recently passed further exams to continue her fully accredited status in SFE in June this year.