Solicitors for the Elderly fears thousands of people are putting themselves at risk of being cheated by unscrupulous salesmen who offer to write their wills but who are not adequately qualified, trained or insured.
Last month the UK's Legal Ombudsman highlighted dangers of using Will writing companies to Make Wills. This week The One Show also called for Will writing to be regulated to protect the public. A recent survey showed that 67% of consumers wrongly believe that all Will writers are solicitors and 82% of the 1,000 people polled thoughts that training and qualifications are required before someone can become a Will writer. In fact anyone can write a Will for payment.
Trethowans Associate and member of Solicitors for the Elderly, Karen Perugini, said "Will writers need no training and they aren't regulated so if you choose a Will writing company to do your Will you are taking a huge risk. I have heard horror stories of clients who have used Will writers and then paid the price. It can be very costly to sort out after you have gone, leaving your family to pick up the pieces as problems generally only come to light when you have died."
Many people make Wills when they enter their senior years and are targeted by Will-writing companies who often apply high-pressure selling techniques, offering wills for a low or discounted fee, then recommend themselves to be appointed as executors, selling other services without full advice, such as transferring the home into a trust in an attempt to avoid care fees. Terms and conditions can be poorly worded and difficult to understand.
Will writers often claim they are significantly cheaper than solicitors but recent research carried out by Which? Magazine found on average the price of a Will from a Solicitor is £130 and from a Will writer is £107. Professionals, such as solicitors and legal executives are regulated, have relevant qualifications, undergo continual training, must be insured and provide redress if things were to go wrong. Given the protection you get by making a Will with a regulated professional the small difference in price is well worth it.
Karen went on to say, "We need new regulations to help protect the consumer, particularly older and vulnerable people. I recommend using a local member of Solicitors for the Elderly."
Solicitors for the Elderly is the UK association of solicitors, legal executives and barristers who provide specialist advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers.