Life today is more complicated than it has ever been.
Unmarried couples, married couples who have children from previous relationships, greater wealth (primarily from home ownership), and concerns about care home fees, all make wills of greater importance.
Whilst wills grow in importance, anyone can set up a business to provide wills. Solicitors currently prepare two thirds of all wills, this leaves banks, charities, trade unions, will writing companies and self-completion wills to account for the remaining one third.
A recent report, conducted by the Legal Services Board, identified three problems with the wills market.
First, most people lack the knowledge to spot problems with the quality of wills.
Second, wills are likely to involve dealing with the elderly or infirm who may be vulnerable.
Third, any problems with wills are unlikely to be spotted until after death, when there may be no opportunity to rectify the situation.
In the report mentioned above, it was found that more than one in three of all wills were not legally valid or did not meet the client’s stated requirements.
The report also identified questionable sales practices, such as pressure to pay enormous sums for services that were not wanted or needed.
Additionally, problems with the storage of wills, with many will writing companies disappearing without trace with no safeguards in place for the safe custody of wills in their possession.
The report therefore concluded that will writing should become an activity regulated by the Government.
Unfortunately, the Government has recently said no to this recommendation.
This leaves the spectre of potentially incompetent, untrained and uninsured will-writers preparing incorrect or unsuitable wills, and no recourse for consumers when things go wrong. An appropriately qualified and experienced solicitor brings the comfort of expertise but also a regulatory and compensation system to put right any errors.
If you do not have a solicitor to call upon for help, then we would be happy to recommend one to you.