As a local firm of solicitors we are warning people to be on their guard from ‘Cowboy” Will Writers operating nationwide and more recently on the doorstep.
This warning comes after investigations conducted by the BBC television programme, Panorama, into Will Writing Companies, and lack of regulation. The programme, entitled 'Wills - The Final Rip Off’ was aired on 9th August 2010 and since then there has been a lot of coverage at a national and local level on the TV and in the newspapers on this topic with BBC Breakfast discussing unregulated Will writers on their programme on 18th July 2011.
Caroline Bielanska, Chief Executive of Solicitors for the Elderly, who appeared on the Panorama programme says the lack of regulation has enabled many Will Writers to adopt high pressure selling techniques - illustrated in the programme, often offering Wills for a low or discounted fee, and then recommending 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.
Panorama found that these companies propose to offer value for money services including Will writing, preparing Lasting Powers of Attorney and dealing with the distribution of estates after death. However, the reality is that after instructing these companies, consumers often find themselves with bills running into thousands of pounds because of hidden fees and charges for work that is sometimes unnecessary and often carried out by someone with very little legal knowledge, training or experience.
A survey carried out by the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners has further highlighted instances where consumers have been charged up to £12,000.00 up-front for executor services, only for their family to find that the firm involved had gone out of business not long after, disappearing with the deceased’s Wills and their money.
The Society has further gone on to say that 75% of its members have encountered cases of “incompetence or dishonesty in the Will writing market in the last 12 months”.
Sharon Richardson, director at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors says “Your Will and Lasting Power of Attorney are both extremely important documents which, if prepared incorrectly, can have disastrous and extremely costly consequences. By using a firm of solicitors who specialise in this area of law, you will have the reassurance of knowing, that the most important documents you may ever need, have been prepared by experts who are fully regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.”