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Whilst we advocate the importance of having a written will in place should the worst happen, you need to know that it’s valid, legal and will stand up to scrutiny – otherwise it’s not worth having at all!


Unregulated will writing – are you one of the tens of thousands at risk?


Last year, the Legal Ombudsman stated concerns that there are tens of thousands of wills produced by unregulated will writing companies that may contain gaps and discrepancies which render the wills unfit for purpose. In fact, since 2013, 13% of all complaints the Ombudsman received have been related to will writing, which goes some way to illustrating the size of the problem.

The amount of unregulated will writing companies is on the rise, accounting for approximately 12% of the market, and roughly the same proportion of people prepare their own wills using off-the-shelf kits.

People are tempted by prices that frequently undercut legal firms, but it is of great concern within the legal industry that these supposedly ‘specialist’ will writing companies are potentially creating wills that may cause problems downstream when the wills are read.

One of the major causes for concern is that people who use unregulated will writers have no legal recourse if something goes wrong. In many cases unregulated will writers are not insured so if anyone loses out on a will which has not been drafted correctly, they will have no way of recovering their loss.

Potential pitfalls of unregulated wills

Some of the typical mistakes unregulated will writers make that have caused real problems for clients or their beneficiaries include:

  • Problems with the witnessing of the will. A will needs to have two independent witnesses who are not beneficiaries of the will and they need to have seen the testator sign the will for it to be valid.
  • Wording of legacies. Legacy wording has to be airtight to be valid.  For example, if it is stipulated that a property is being left in the will, a replacement clause should be put in place in case the testator moves home.
  • Descriptions of assets and beneficiaries. Legal documentation should leave no room for misinterpretation. Asset and beneficiary descriptions in unregulated wills are often not clear enough, leaving the will open to be contested.

Government rejection of regulation

The whole issue of regulation has been a hot potato in the industry for a while now. Back in 2010 the Legal Services Board started a consultation about whether will writing should be regulated, highlighting the poor service, financial loss, practical issues and emotional harm caused by wills that have been drafted negligently. Despite this, the government decided against the regulation in 2013, leaving the industry in its current state today.

In response to the government’s rejection, Desmond Hudson, Chief Executive of the Law Society said: “Consumers have been let down by this deeply disappointing decision. Unregulated providers can carry on writing wholly unsuitable wills, leaving consumers without any recourse when things go wrong.”

Do not leave your will to chance – a will is too important to leave to chance.  Even if you think your will is straightforward, we would always encourage individuals to speak to a Solicitor who is regulated to perform the task and will have your best interests in mind.

Please contact us now to find out how we can help.

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Walker Solicitors is a trade name of Walker Solicitors Ltd. Registered in England (Company No: 9608224). Registered office: 209-212 Stafford Street, Walsall WS2 8DW. A list of members is available for inspection at this office. We use the word ‘partner’ to refer to a member of the company or an employee or consultant who is a solicitor with equivalent standing and qualification.

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