JUST over a year ago, a BBC Panorama programme highlighted the risks in using a Will writing service.

Many people are under the false impression a ‘Will writer’ is a solicitor. Unlike solicitors Will writers do not have to undergo any training or have insurance. They are not regulated by any organisation which ensures that they conduct their activities in the interests of the consumer and provide some form of redress if things go wrong.

If they go out of business, there is little that can be done. Sometimes the Will cannot be found, even where charges have been made for storing it.

Experience is essential

One lady on the Panorama programme had used a Will writer but the Will failed to include any provision for her husband, leaving the entire estate in trust for his stepdaughters.

A spokesperson who appeared on the programme, expressed concern that a spouse had not been provided for. She said, ‘A specialist solicitor would have asked why a spouse was left out, kept a detailed record of those reasons and advised of the high risk that the Will would be challenged. Solicitors are in the business of giving legal advice and taking into account the client’s domestic and financial circumstances – it does not appear that this lady received any such advice’.

Potential for getting it wrong

Panorama highlighted the potential for getting it wrong without full legal advice. It can be very costly to undo after you have gone and, at an already emotionally difficult time, it can leave your family in disarray when they have to pick up the pieces as problems often only come to light after you have died.

Peace of mind

Melanie Dunton says “We set out in writing the basis of our charges. In many cases Wills are undertaken for a fixed fee with free storage of Wills and other documents. The average cost of a basic Will is £200 plus VAT which is good value for the peace of mind in knowing that your estate and dependants are protected. Whilst we can advise on possible ways to avoid or reduce care home fees, this must be done carefully to ensure that your security and financial independence are properly protected”.

For more information please call our Wills and Probate Team on 01689 822554 or email wills@thomasdunton.co.uk

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