There are lots of events in life which might make you think about writing a will. Marriage, divorce, a child being born, a health scare, a new house. If you use a professional to help you with this, you tend to trust that they are acting in your best interest and that what you ask for is what you get.
A will is one of the most important documents you will ever write, so it is important to ensure that it is done properly.
Tonight’s Panorama on BBC 1 at 8:30 has a look at some of the issues involved with getting a will drafted and some of the pitfalls. According to the report on this morning’s Today programme on Radio 4, will writers and banks get rather pummelled whilst the legal profession comes out on top.
The reasons for this are clear. It boils down to professional standards.
Customers of will writers and banks are enticed by slightly lower fees but often find themselves encouraged (and in some cases pressured) into appointing the will writers or the bank as executors without being fully informed of what this means in terms of fees (which can amount to about 4% of the estate). Customers are often then charged to have their wills stored. To add insult to injury the advice in preparing the will is not always correct with no legal redress against the will writers.
How can this happen? Simply put, the will writing industry is unregulated and anyone with a PC and a desk can make themselves a will writer.
Solicitors, conversely, are regulated by the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority. We have a code of conduct which places the client first. Whilst not all solicitors are experts in trusts and inheritance tax, one must have a certain level of expertise and training to be admitted as a solicitor.
I’m not saying that the legal profession is perfect. There is a diverse range of solicitors from sole practitioners on the high street to the multi-nationals in the city. But what using a solicitor offers is the security of a skilled professional, putting your interests first, backed up by the guarantee of insurance should something go wrong. Because of this costs are sometimes higher, but at the end of the day you know what you are getting.
Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP does have a dedicated team of Wealth Management specialists with expertise in wills, tax, trusts and probate.
If you would like to speak to someone about making a will, please contact Suki Sandhu or Emma Alford on 01923 202020, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.