Frances Kelly, Head of Wills, Trust and Probate at Tallents Solicitors, is concerned that, due to the financial climate, people may have chosen their will writer based on cost alone. Recent research from reported that more than 29.5 million Britons are currently without a will and that 10% of people currently without a will believe their estate will go to the right people automatically. For those people who have taken the effort to protect their loved ones and write a will, Frances says: “This year we have seen a significant rise in the number of ‘will writers’ advertising their fix-priced services to clients. “However, the first annual report released this year from the legal ombudsman highlighted that 13% of the complaints they had received involved will writing. “Tallents have been meeting the legal needs of clients across Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire since 1774 and as a carefully regulated legal firm, this information concerns us greatly.” In his report, Chief Ombudsman, Adam Sampson said: “One service which crops up a lot is will writing. It is a service carried out often by will-writing firms who aren’t regulated. Because of this, customers are left with little means of redress when things go wrong.” Frances continues: “We at Tallents are very pleased that the government has been called upon to take urgent action to make sure consumers are not left confused and vulnerable by unregulated companies.” Both the consumer organisation Which? and the Law Society have also backed the ombudsman’s claims and called for more protection for consumers. Des Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society for England and Wales said: “It is also damaging to consumers because the unregulated providers are not insured, do not provide a compensation fund and are not covered by the legal ombudsman’s scheme for consumer redress.” Richard Lloyd, Which? Executive Director, said: “We want the government and regulators to wake up to the current lack of clarity and to provide a clear and straightforward route of redress for consumers.” In July this year the Legal Service Board announced a statutory investigation into the will-writing market after they estimated 180,000 wills are written each year by unregulated firms. The Chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, Dr Dianne Hayter, said a will could have huge personal and financial consequences for families and proposed that will-writing should be made a reserved legal activity. Frances comments: “Recently we have heard some horror stories about people who have been approached by will-writing companies who employ high-pressure selling techniques, offer to write wills for extremely low or fixed-prices, who recommend themselves to be appointed as executors or who sell other services without full-advice, such as transferring home ownership to avoid care fees.” Frances finishes, “You should always choose a professional to deal with your legal requirements. At Tallents, our solicitors and legal executives are regulated, have relevant qualifications, undertake continual professional development and training, and are fully insured. “In addition, they will always take the time to guide clients through the will writing process and explore every option before making sure their final wishes will be carried out on their death. For peace of mind we always recommend using a regulated professional to write your will.”
Legal Ombudsman – 1st annual report
Legal Services Consumer Panel – Regulating will-writing
The Guardian
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