Related BBC1 Panorama programme was aired on Monday 09 August 2010 at 20:30
SAS Daniels LLP is warning those wanting to make out a last will and testament to take care of the pitfalls of doing it cheaply or without research – a problem highlighted in Panorama which looks at the vast costs of getting it wrong by using ‘will writing services’.
A combination of lack of regulation and high pressure selling techniques has meant that non-legal sales executives are able to advise often vulnerable people how to make out a will.
“I’ve seen an increase in the companies who offer will writing ‘services’ and the shocking financial pitfalls that have faced some unwary consumers. It can be immensely costly to undo, and can leave a family in disarray after the loved one has died – which is usually only when issues come to light.”
“If clients use a solicitor in the first instance, not only can they offer the correct legal advice taking into account the client’s domestic and financial situation, but they can also advise on other services such as the creation of trusts, transfer of assets and powers of attorney.”
The fear of solicitors’ costs and the perceived unapproachability of the legal profession was highlighted in the programme as a reason for the growth of will writing services.
“Solicitors are required to set out in writing the basis of their charges, and in many cases wills are undertaken for a fixed fee with free storage of wills and other documents,”
“We’re very approachable, and our probate department is used to dealing with often vulnerable or senior people to help them through the pitfalls of will writing. We’re also more than happy to visit clients at home if there is the need.”
Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE)
Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) is an independent, national organisation of lawyers, such as solicitors, barristers, and legal executives, of which SAS Daniels LLP is involved. The organisation is committed to providing the highest quality of legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers.
The SFE has been working with BBC’s Panorama programme to raise concern about unregulated will writers. The show, screened on Monday 9th August, highlights the risks in using a will writing service. Many people are under the false impression a ‘will writer’ is a solicitor, but unlike a solicitor they do not have to undergo any training, have insurance, and 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.