The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced that it will investigate firms offering will writing services aftervulnerable customers contacted the UK watchdog saying they had been pressured into signing up for a will. The CMA said there are will writing services available where the adviser is not a solicitor and when operating in an unregulated sector, “…it becomes all the more important that normal consumer protection laws are complied with and, if necessary, enforced”.
The CMA said in some situations, clients have been attracted by an “extremely low” initial fee for advice without being instructed how the costs could increase significantly. Some complaints included reports of vulnerable customers experiencing “pressure selling and coercion.”
Times are tough at the moment and with huge financial pressures, if you’re thinking about making a will, it may be tempting to choose an online service or use a will writing firm, which may cost less than £40 and only take 30 minutes to complete. But if this sounds too good to be true, there is a possibility that it might be. Dominic Ibbs, principal lawyer, B P Collins advises why these firms should be treated with caution.
- Mistakes can be made. For example, failing to have the will witnessed correctly by two independent adults at the same time – neither of whom should be a beneficiary – and a failure to sign the document correctly, are common errors which could make the document invalid. Other mistakes include misspelled names, illegible writing or inaccurate wording.
- There is a minefield of legislation, case law and tax implications that an adviser needs to be aware of, not to mention the practical considerations which go side by side with estate planning which may not be considered by a will writing or online service. A wills, trust and probate lawyer can ensure all obligations are met and confirm you have thought of everything, so that the Will is comprehensive and watertight.
- If mistakes are made, a dispute over your estate could result after you have passed away, this could be time consuming, expensive and stressful for everyone involved.
- As the CMA has reported, the true cost of making a will with a will writing service may not be clear. A reputable wills, trust and probate lawyer will be transparent with costs so you know where you stand and would never put undue pressure on a client to sign up for any other services.
- Do your research and find out if the person who is writing your will is a member of the Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS) as it provides a best practice quality mark for wills and estate administration advice that consumers can strust and outlines practice requirements in areas such as will writing, probate and estate administration.
B P Collins has a team of wills, trusts and probate lawyers, that can help you write or review your Will and provide bespoke advice on next steps. The team are also members of the Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS). For further advice contact 01753 889995 or email email@example.com.