Make sure your will writer is ‘qualified, insured and regulated’

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signing a will

More than six out of 10 people are unaware that will-writers who aren’t solicitors are unregulated and may have no insurance and very little experience.

The Wills & Probate Consumer Research Report 2018 shows that only 37% of adults have made a will. It says the wills ‘take-up’ is skewed towards older age groups with over six out of ten adults in the over 55s age group having made a will.

Some of the main findings of the survey showed that:

  • most people still use law firms and solicitors for wills and probate advice
  • there is some client loyalty with over 4 out of 10 clients of law firms and solicitors going back to a law firm/solicitor that they have used before
  • most people think the wills market is regulated, and this is likely to be compromising consumer choice.

The survey also revealed that 3% of respondents tried to produce a DIY will but ended up having to call in a solicitor.

Most people were surprised that will writers were not regulated, and more than half believed that they should be.

The survey report said: “A core strength of the major traditional providers in the market, i.e. law firms and solicitors, is that these providers are the choice of most consumers making a will.

“Client loyalty is also relatively high, despite the use of legal services being an occasional one for most individuals, with many consumers going back to law firms and solicitors that they have used before.”

The research reinforces the findings of a recent survey by Will Aid, which found that more than 6 out of 10 people prefer a qualified solicitor to write their will so they can be confident that it’s done properly.

A spokesman for Will Aid, said: “Drawing up a will is a vital financial planning step but the lure of the cheaper alternatives to solicitors can mean the document is not properly written or legally binding.

“While an off-the-shelf will might seem attractive to those who are watching the pennies, it could be money wasted rather than saved.

“It is evident that the public prefer to use a solicitor to write their will, wherever possible. They are aware that with a solicitor you can be assured of a valid will and if anything does go wrong there is proper insurance and redress. This may not be the case with an unregulated provider and certainly isn’t the case if you write your own will.”

The Law Society has also urged people to make a will and ensure that they only use a fully qualified solicitor. A spokesman said: “A badly drafted will can cause more problems than no will at all, so the Law Society advises against using unregulated will writers. All solicitors are subject to strict regulation to ensure that they deliver the best service to their clients, unlike unregulated will writers.

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“Solicitors are unparalleled in the will writing market as only they have the breadth of training to consider wider implications and complex issues, including tax and family law.”