A “Toothless” Will-Writing Code!

Solicitors have for a long time warned against the dangers and misconceived cost savings in Clients utilising the services of unregulated will writing companies run by non-qualified individuals.

Even with a newly announced voluntary code of practise approved by the Office of Fair trading (OFT) for non-lawyer will writing companies, there is little to suggest that the public will receive any greater protection.

Any one wishing to utilise the code must pass an entrance exam, provide consumers with a cooling off period and complete work within a mutually agreed time frame. It hardly needs pointing out that any such “entrance exam” is likely to be a set of multiple choice questions undertaken after a ½ day “intensive” course – a “hurdle” to any member of the public who wishes to claim to be competent to write a will that has no comparison to the 7 years of training a qualified lawyer will have undertaken, let alone the additional  20 years plus of experience contained within the Probate department of GAD post qualification.

It is all too telling that given this code lacks any serious sanctions to for breach (a will writer can merely drop the scheme and set up again the following day with the same letter-head (minus the logo)), the Scots, never a Country to shy away from true consumer protection, have rejected such a scheme and instead intend to place all non-lawyer will writers under a compulsory regulation scheme akin to the standards imposed upon qualified Lawyers.

Even the most “simple” of instructions between Husband and Wife, wishing to leave everything to each other and then the children, understates the complexity of underlying issues involved in every set of instructions. The Lawyer will address questions of property ownership, tax consequences and potential claims. A blinkered approach by a non-qualified writer may appear to be “just the ticket” – but ask no questions and tell no lies! A thorough examination of your circumstances and targeted enquiry into particularly relevant circumstances within your property and family affairs will ensure that the Lawyers at GAD deal with ALL the issues that need to be addressed within your instructions. AND, all of this will be undertaken at our highly competitive fixed fee rates with the added bonus and security of Law Society backed protection.

Our department has been instructed upon many occasions to deal with the “fall-out” created by will-writing companies. Besides the obviously poorly drafted document that doesn’t actually achieve the aims and wishes of the deceased, we encounter:

  • Executorship appointments that are either defective or impose excessive charges to the Estate
  • “Hidden charges” for the release of a will from a companies storage facility (having discovered that prior to death the Testator was actually paying a storage fee of up to £25 per annum) – We at GAD store all our clients will for FREE within our Deeds Storage Facilities.
  • Or worse still, we find that the purported will has never actually been completed (the drafts having been sent out with confusing instructions and no  follow up) – at GAD all our wills are executed, under supervision, within our own offices to ensure the technical formalities are complied with to the “letter”.