Unregulated Will Writers pose serious dangers for consumer protection
The Legal Ombudsman has called on the government to take urgent action over unregulated companies offering consumer financial services to make sure consumers are not left confused and vulnerable by such companies. Thousands of people are being taken advantage of by unregulated claims management and will writing companies.
Chief Ombudsman Adam Sampson said “One service which crops up a lot is will writing. It’s a service carried out often by will-writing firms who aren’t regulated”.
“Because of this, customers are left with little means of redress when things go wrong.
The consumer organisation Which and the Law Society backed the claims and called for more protection for customers. The pitfalls of using unregulated individuals and organisations have lead to people being overcharged for wills that turn out to be invalid because they have not been properly drawn up or does not properly reflect their intentions.
The Legal Services Board has long campaigned for the change and has published proposals for tighter regulation of all services related to Wills, estate administration and probate.
Currently there are no restrictions on the business of will writing and anyone can enter the market and offer an unregulated service. There are approximately 85 Will writing firms operating outside of any regulation and the result is having an inappropriate, invalid and incorrectly drafted Will drawn up by someone who has no legal experience. Time and time again it transpires that the client’s wishes have not been fulfilled and the impact has serious consequences on those chosen beneficiaries.
The LSB findings indicate how widespread cowboy will-writers have become. It also found that consumers were subjected to unfair sales practices, fraud and deception. The LSB are proposing to consult with the Lord Chancellor early next year so as to extend legal services regulation into these areas.
The investigation by the Legal Ombudsman is ongoing and we shall keep clients informed of developments.
Pengillys solicitors are tightly regulated in helping you to draw up a Will which must comply with the highest professional standards. Every Solicitor is regulated by the professional governing body the Solicitors Regulation Authority .An experienced professional Solicitor has extensive legal knowledge and expertise to prepare a Will that is tailored exactly to the client’s needs and circumstances to achieve the client’s wishes. There are certain legal formalities which must be complied with when making a Will and a Solicitor will spend time in ascertaining the client’s financial and personal affairs as well as advising on any potential problems that may arise.
The other service offered by unregulated Will writers is to sell pre-paid probate packages placing immense pressure on the client to pay now so as to reduce costs and ease the administration process for beneficiaries. The consequences of this are serious and very often the costs of administering an estate ends up being substantially higher than if the estate had been dealt with by a professional solicitor. The executors are not then free to appoint a professional to deal with the estate. More worryingly the client is mislead to believe they are paying for the whole of their estate to be administered when in actual fact they are paying only for obtaining a Grant of Probate and nothing more. In addition to their costs third party charges are not drawn to the client’s attention from the outset.
Will writers charge very high costs for the storage of Wills and these are often payable by clients on a monthly basis so at the end of the year clients end up paying thousands of pounds for the storage of their wills. At Pengillys we store our clients wills free of charge.
Pengillys and our private client Solicitors are fully insured, regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and have been awarded the Lexcel Practice Management standard for providing an excellent service to clients. We have also been accredited as a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) which is recognised as providing expert advice on how to comply with complex law and tax rules surrounding trust estates and inheritance and are a member of Solicitors for the Elderly.
For more information on making a Will or on the administration of an estate please contact a member of our Private Client Team are:
Mr Christopher Michael Berry – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Stephen Jones – email@example.com
Mrs Katherine Ashley – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Matthew Rimmer – email@example.com