If you are one of those sensible people who has decided to make a Will but are looking for a cost effective means of making one and are considering using a Will Writer then you need to take care. Here are some guidelines/key issues.
Before you begin you need to ask some straighforward questions.
1. Are they regulated and insured. Many Will writing companies will say that they are regulated and insured but this is not always the case. You need to see the paperwork and perhaps make a couple of telephone calls and asking what happens if it goes wrong. If they are not regulated and if something goes wrong you may have very little recourse. Solicitors are regulated and that is where you have protection.
2. What are their qualifications? Pretty much anyone can call themselves a lawyer but not every lawyer is a solicitor. Many Will writers work from templates and you can end up with a lengthy Will that covers everything and I mean everything even though it may not have any relevance to you or your personal circumstances. A common experience is that the Will writing company will tell you that recent changes in the law mean that your Will is now invalid and 9 times out of 10 this is blatently untrue. If yoi umake your Will with a firm of solicitors they will contact you if there is a change in the law which affects your Will.
3. How long have they been in business? Many Will writing companies come and go and this is becoming an increasing problem. If you signed up for storage. I had a client recently who could not trace the company that did their Will and was storing the original. They had been dissolved as a company and the Will was nowhere to be found. The surviving spouse also had her Will with them and it became necessary to rewrite her Will to avoid any problems when she died.
4. Whats on offer? – If you want a Will and only a Will then you have to be absolutely 100% clear on what you want. Many Will writers offer other services that may or may not be what you need. This can have the effect of increasing the cost up to one or two thousand pounds.
5. What are the overall costs? Watch out for the extras such as the cost of Will storage. Most solicitors will not charge for the storage. Many potential clients are being taken in by advertisements offering low cost only to find additional costs for ‘extras’ such as additional clauses, review charges and storage fees, can cause the price to rise more than ten times what was initilaly advertised.
6. What if something goes wrong? Some of the issues with Wills made with non solicitor companies that I have encountered are very basic. They often contain errors. One Will, for example was witnessed by a beneficiary of the Will and this caused the gift to that person to be void. Having a beneficiary or his/her spouse witnessing the Will is an absolute no no. This goes back to point 1, who do you complain to and do you have the time to complain?
7. What happens when you die? The appointment of the non solicitor company to become the executors of your Will can be a major problem if the Will writing company has disappeared or has changed their name and if there is no clause in the Will to allow for the fact that they are no longer in existence or changed their name then the problems can simply go on and on. In my experience if they are appointed as the executor their charges for administering an estate are way in excess of what a solicitors practice would normally charge and the extras simply pile up.
It is often only your gut feeling that tells you all is not well and by the time you recognise this it is often too late to do anything about it.
If you would like expert advice on making a Will then contact me Eilish Adams on 020 8899 6620 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org