Consumers must have greater protection in will writing market, says Worthing law firm

BENNETT GRIFFIN LLP has called for greater regulation of will-writers to match that of solicitors after BBC Panorama’s Wills: The Final Rip Off? revealed the risks of using will-writers.

Bennett Griffin LLP is calling for a level playing field in the will writing market to ensure consumers have greater protection against inaccurate or poorly drafted wills, as seen on the Panorama investigation into the unregulated will writing industry aired on Monday evening.

The Panorama investigation also uncovered cases where consumers had been quoted fees of £75-£100 to write a will, but ended up paying thousands of pounds for hidden extras.  Some clients were told the fees would cover the costs of dealing with their estate after they had passed away, but were not told that an additional fee percentage would be charged.  In some cases, beneficiaries have even had their inheritance stolen.

Ian Macara, a Partner in Bennett Griffin LLP and head of the will-writing team says:

“The Panorama investigation emphasises a problem that Bennett Griffin LLP has been highlighting for some time that there are severe risks to consumers in using unregulated, unqualified and uninsured will writers.  Unlike solicitors, will writers are not robustly regulated by law, nor are they thoroughly insured (if at all) to protect against errors.

“Solicitors are qualified to write wills, their obligatory insurance cover means that the clients’ interests are protected and they are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.  In the unlikely event that something should go wrong, the client and their estate are fully protected.  Will writers cannot offer that protection or basic competence.”

Last year, a study by the Law Society found that many solicitors were being passed botched wills that had been originally written by will writers.

Ian Macara says: “Until there is greater regulation and protection for consumers on wills, the best possible option to the public is to use a solicitor.  Moves by some will writing organisations to impose a code of practice on their members is a small step in the right direction, but until there is an equal level of protection to clients irrespective of whether they use a solicitor or a will writer, the public remain exposed to the risks highlighted on Panorama by some will writers.  We look to the consumer bodies for support in our drive for better consumer protection.”

 

Journalists can contact Jo Ostrom of Bennett Griffin LLP at jos@bennett-griffin.co.uk or on 01903 706963.

Law firm website: www.bennett-griffin.co.uk
Panorama: Wills – The Final Rip Off?, BBC One, Monday, 9 August at 2030 BST and then available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.