Often driven by an advert showing a modest charge for preparing Wills, some people will choose to use a will writer instead of a solicitor when it comes to drafting their Wills. This can often be a false economy and lead to issues down the line.
Anyone can be a Will Writer
It takes years of studying, exams and training before you are legally qualified to call yourself a solicitor whereas anyone can start a will writing service and become a will writer, raising concerns about the level of expertise that can be offered by a will writer when preparing wills.
Bespoke legal advice
You might think that your Will is going to be straight forward but unless your adviser drills down into the background of your family history, assets or tax implications, you may not be armed with the level of information and advice needed to have a Will drafted suited to your needs and solicitors are in a position to offer multi-faceted and specialist advice.
Whilst you wouldn’t think about things going wrong before engaging a solicitor, you can be assured that as regulated advisors there are processes and safeguards in place in the unlikely event that something did go wrong. The first stop will the law firm and if your complaint wasn’t dealt with to your satisfaction, you can refer it to the Legal Ombudsman. There is no similar regulation of most will writers meaning you may not be able to do much if you are dissatisfied.
Being part of a regulated industry means that solicitors need to have in place robust insurance to cover any loss or negligence on part of the solicitor or the law firm. Unregulated will writers have no requirement to have insurance in place so there is no guarantee that any loss suffered will be compensated should things go wrong as a result of a will writer drafting your Will.
Contesting the Validity of the Will
Solicitors take contemporaneous and detailed notes of discussions and instructions at the time a Will is prepared. There is nothing to stop someone from challenging a Will, and two reasons where it could be challenged may be because the challenger doubts the capacity of the person who made the Will or they think the person was forced to make it. At the time a Will is made, solicitors will go through a process to ensure that they are satisfied the person making the Will has the requisite capacity to make one and that they weren’t being pressured into making it. It is unlikely that detailed records would be kept by unregulated will writers. Make sure to review our article for more information on when a will is not valid.
We often find that will writers or other organisations, such as a bank, will insist on being appointed as executors and as a result, charge for this. Or, it may seem like you don’t have the freedom to choose your executors and this is simply not the case. It is entirely your choice and solicitors will guide you through the options to establish the suitability of the appointment of your executors.
Solicitors will often provide a storage service, holding your Will (and sometimes other documents, like deeds) in a secure and fire-proof safe, with suitable insurance cover in place. The same may not be true for unregulated will writers. If the law firm were to cease to exist or became insolvent, the Solicitors Regulation Authority would oversee who takes over control of clients’ documents. A will writer could disappear and there is no real process to trace your important documents.
NSS Legal Limited are a team of will and probate solicitors in Golders Green who specialise in drafting Wills and estate planning and can guide you through the process to ensure your wishes are accurately noted and your loved ones taken care of.