When engaging a professional to write your Will, you may be surprised to learn that some companies or individuals offering such services are neither regulated by a supervising body, nor adequately insured. They may not even have any legal qualifications, come to that.
There is often only cause for a Will to be looked at closely once the testator has died, by which point it is too late to correct issues such as incorrect drafting or a failure to follow the client's instructions. Redress for beneficiaries lies with the firm or individual Will writer themselves – but there may be no possibility of compensation where the firm is not regulated or insured.
Solicitors are regulated by, the Solicitors' Regulation Authority (SRA) and are required to follow the SRA's Principles and Code of Conduct. Action can be brought against a firm that does not adhere to these rules and standards of service and competency.
In addition, if individuals are concerned about the actions of a firm or an individual solicitor and have already followed that firm's internal complaints process, there is further redress available to the Legal Ombudsman.
Non-solicitor Will-writing firms are not subject to such regulation. Many legal services are designated as 'reserved legal activities' and can therefore only be carried out by solicitors. However Will writing is not such an activity and therefore no-one is legally prevented from offering a Will writing service, whether they are qualified to do so or not.
Solicitors are required to have professional indemnity insurance to cover any financial liability which arises due to errors they have made whilst they are acting in a professional capacity.
Unauthorised and unregulated firms are under no obligation to maintain such insurance. Therefore if any issue or error is uncovered in relation to a Will the beneficiaries of the deceased will be unlikely to recover any compensation from an unregulated Will-writer.
If an unregulated Will-writing company has closed down or gone in to administration, there will be no funds available to meet any claim. In contrast, Solicitors firms all contribute to a fund which would be available to compensate beneficiaries, even if the firm itself was no longer trading.
Engaging a qualified, experienced, SRA regulated Solicitor to draft your Will means that the risk of issues arising in connection with the Will after death are reduced – and are likely to be covered by insurance if needed.
Our team of Wills, Trusts & Probate solicitors have a wealth of experience and knowledge to assist you in relation to any legal query or matter you may have. Call us on 01603 620508 or email us and a member of the department will be in touch very soon.