Barnsley solicitors issue warning about will writers

15 July 2014

A Barnsley solicitors’ firm is urging people to be careful about who they instruct to write their will after a woman was quoted more than five times too much.

The warning from Raleys Solicitors backs up a Law Society campaign to have will writers regulated and also reinforces concerns raised by trading standards officers in South Yorkshire.

Ginette McCaffery, head of Wills and Probate at Raleys, said they heard of many cases where people had been persuaded to allow a will writer to draw up a will, often after being cold called. In some cases the will writer charged several thousand pounds and the document was not even legally water-tight.

Last year the Government decided not to regulate will writers, despite two years of research by the Legal Services Board that showed there were serious flaws in the service, and a Law Society campaign for regulation.

Ginette said: “Only this week I have been contacted by a woman whose elderly parents were cold-called by someone giving the impression they were phoning from social services. They claimed they were calling to save them money on care home fees so they made an appointment.

“Luckily, they discussed it with their daughter first who found that it was, in fact, a will writer calling and that he wanted to charge over £1,000 for a service that would have cost about £200 at a solicitors’.

And that is by no means the biggest cost discrepancy we’ve seen”

About two-thirds of wills are drawn up by solicitors, with the remaining third either written by will writers or people buying off-the-shelf products.

Ginette is also finding that many will writers are informing clients that solicitors cannot draw up lasting powers of attorney and that the only way to get that service is via a will writer. “This is completely false information”, says Ginette. “All qualified solicitors are able to create powers of attorney and often at a much lower cost than will writers”.

The Legal Services Board recommended that will writers are subject to regulation after finding “comprehensive evidence that the market is working contrary to the interests of consumers who use these critical services”. But the Government rejected the recommendation.*

Doncaster Trading Standards issued a warning about will writers after getting calls about will writers cold calling people preying on their concerns about the cost of social care in later life.**

Ginette added: “A year on from the Government’s decision not to regulate the industry it actually feels like it has got worse and I am receiving regular calls from people who have been pressured into signing something they later regret.

“The legal profession would love to see will writing properly regulated to protect people. I am sure there are some decent will writers out there, but all too often we hear horror stories.

It is time the whole issue was looked at again.”

Ends

Issued on behalf of Raleys Solicitors, www.raleys.co.uk
For further information call 01226 211 111 or email kate.swinscoe@raleys.co.uk

Notes to editor

Ginette McCaffery can be contacted on 01226 211 111

More information about the Law Society’s campaign can be found here:

www.lawsociety.org.uk/representation/campaigns/will-writers/
* www.legalservicesboard.org.uk/news_publications/press_releases/2013/2013_05_14_lsb_reaction_to_lord_chancellor's_will_writing_decision_(final).pdf
**www.facebook.com/doncastertradingstandards

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