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In July, it was announced that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) would re-investigate unregulated willwriters for potential breaches of consumer law. Complaints to the CMA have mostly centered around opaque pricing and unfair terms, including the tendency for companies to appoint themselves as executors in order to charge excessive fees for handling the administration of the estate when the time comes.
While it remains to be seen what conclusions the CMA will reach, the case has once again sparked calls to make will writing a “conservative legal activity”. This means that wills can only be written by qualified solicitors who are regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.
Thus, it raises the important question of who you should turn to for help in writing a will, and what are the main issues you need to consider?
My will was drawn up by a disorganized will writer. Does this mean I need to file a new will now?
not necessarily. It is not that all commandments formulated by unregulated will-writers should be considered defective in some way simply because of the lack of regulation to which they are subject. Indeed, there would be many highly skilled disorganized probate writers, and conversely, it cannot be said that drafting errors were never committed by an SRA-regulated solicitor. We suggest in this scenario that a review of the will by a regulated provider would give you peace of mind that your will already adequately covers your needs and those of your beneficiaries.
I have heard that there is a significant savings in the cost of having my will written by an unregulated will writer. Is this correct?
It is fair to say that, in general, a will drawn up by a disorganized will will cost less on face value than an SRA-regulated attorney would normally charge. This is why the option of having a will prepared by a will writer is attractive to many. With the rising cost of living, people are now more than ever looking for the most cost-effective way to book a Will. For some, however, they will discover later that the benefit of a reduced or free will comes with an unexpected and disproportionately high fee charged by the will-writer, for example, for storing a will, editing a will, or as mentioned above for acting as executors. Greater transparency on fees, both in relation to upfront costs and any expected future costs, is part of what the CMA aims to secure through its investigations.
How do I know if my needs and those of my beneficiaries are better served by a structured or unstructured will writer?
If a definite list of people could be compiled whose needs would be adequately met by one or the other, that would be a much more obvious question to answer! It wouldn’t be surprising when we say that every person looking to write a will should decide which option is right for them based on their individual needs and circumstances. How much is the property worth? Is advice needed on potential tax implications? Do you have young or vulnerable recipients to consider? Are you a blended family? Do you have business interests in addition to your own assets? These are all questions that indicate the need for customized advice from a qualified attorney. Furthermore, if the consequences of a poorly drawn up will are likely to have significant ramifications due to the size of your estate, the type of assets you have, or where the stakes in this case are clearly particularly high, it is worth considering that attorneys have insurance. Professional compensation which means that in the end there is someone you can sue if you make mistakes. The same cannot be said for the vast majority of unregulated service providers.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject. It is advised to take the advice of specialists in such circumstances.
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