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Making a Will? Why not using a solicitor could be a hazardous choice

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By Seila Sanchez Lucas

While you do not need a solicitor to draw up your Will, your choice of professional is important.  Leaving a Will which does not accurately reflect your wishes, or which is drafted in a way which gives rise to unnecessary tax liabilities for your estate, sadly risks causing distress to your loved ones.

A recent press article reported how an elderly gentleman had been conned by the individual who prepared his Will, a professional Will Writer.  The said professional had appointed himself as the only executor and, therefore, the only one in charge of giving effect to his client’s wishes in the Will.  After his client’s death, the Will Writer ran away with £150,000, leaving the two beneficiaries of the Will empty-handed. 

This article aims to highlight the main differences between solicitors and Will Writers, so that you can make an informed decision when choosing a professional to make your Will. It is important to note that not all Will Writing companies are rogue.

Are Will Writers qualified?

Will Writers are not required to have any legal training or qualifications and are not subject to professional regulation. If an issue arises with a Will prepared by a Will Writer, there is no compulsory supervising body to ensure they resolve the problem for you. You (or your family) could be left to try and deal with the situation entirely on your own. And, if this occurs after you have died, your family could be left trying to deal with a complex problem at a time of grief and trauma.

Solicitors’ training and qualifications    

A solicitor is a professional who has achieved the necessary academic qualifications and then undertaken rigorous and lengthy training before being able to practice. 

Solicitors’ regulation and insurance

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is the body which oversees solicitors in the UK.  It enforces a code of conduct and regulatory compliance, and provides continued guidance and training.  The SRA also has disciplinary powers.    

Professional indemnity insurance

Solicitors are protected by their professional indemnity insurance.  Individuals can recover the funds lost or to receive compensation for any damages suffered due to a solicitor’s error or malpractice.

Should I use a Will Writer or a solicitor?

It is important to bear in mind that solicitors will not just write down the testator’s wishes in a valid way, as Will Writers aim to do. 

Specialist solicitors are also trained to assess the capacity of a client to ensure they can make a Will, and in identifying undue influence.

  • Mental capacity is the ability to make your own decisions and to understand and weigh information to make those decisions.

  • Undue influence is the pressure you may receive from other people to do something and that you carry out to avoid conflict with them.

You should always consider using a solicitor to make your Will when:

  • You would like to receive legal advice on how to reduce Inheritance Tax and making a tax-efficient Will.

  • You wish to reduce the risk of your Will being contested or conflict arising in your family because you have not provided for them in your Will as they had expected.

  • One of your beneficiaries has a disability or is vulnerable and you would like to ensure that they are adequately provided for on your death.

  • You would like to have a trusted solicitor assisting your loved ones when they will be grieving and in need of legal assistance in administering your estate.

How much does it cost?

At TWM, our charges are quoted once we have met and discussed matters with you. This is because we offer a genuinely personal service to create Wills for you that are carefully drafted to reflect your wishes and requirements. Following our initial meeting, we will advise you on a range of options and provide you with the fixed fee costs for the preparation of your Will, so that you are fully informed before you formally instruct us.

To find out more, please contact one of our experienced and professionally qualified solicitors in the Private Client team and we will be happy to assist you.