These days there are a number of ways that you can make a Will, but a recent report aimed at assessing the quality of service provided and quality of wills drafted for customers stands to show that you cannot beat the service provided by your local solicitor.
In fact, the report goes as far as to suggest that some services are not just poor in comparison to the service you receive from a solicitor, but they could, in the most extreme cases, cause your assets not to be distributed according to your wishes.
The three main ways of making a will are:
The report was commissioned by the Office of Fair Trading, The Legal Services Board and theRegulation Authority amid concerns over the quality of wills being provided. Research for the report was undertaken by IFF Research. Currently of those providers listed above only solicitors firms are regulated. Will writing companies and DIY will service providers are unregulated and their staff are not legally required to have any formal qualification to provide will writing services to the public.
The report found that customers using solicitors to make their will were most likely to feel they had sufficient opportunities to ask questions regarding the will writing process, what was involved and what the implications were of what was being included within their will. At the other end of the scale, those writing their own will, either online or via a postal service were least likely to be satisfied with the opportunities to ask questions (only 18%).
The report discovered that many DIY will customers are not being prompted to consider the fundamental issues and aspects of their personal circumstances that should form the very foundations of their will. This can lead to important issues not being addressed and dealt with properly.
In recent years there have been many will writing companies enter the market for providing wills, claiming to offer a better value service than solicitors. Many try to compete with solicitors on price rather than focus on offering better quality advice or more thoroughly written wills. This unfortunately leads these companies to be more sales oriented. This was reflected in the report which found that customers of will writing companies were far more likely to feel pressured into purchasing additional services along with their will, such as a Lasting Power of Attorney and lifetime wills storage, compared to customers using solicitors. The report also found that of the will writing companies it surveyed, 25% paid its advisors commission for selling additional services. This is a practice Holmes & Hills does not undertake.
Solicitors are least likely to charge above what was originally quoted: Customers of will writers were also more likely to report they were charged more than the price originally quoted to them. In contrast, customers that used a solicitor were the least likely to report they had been charged over and above what had been quoted at the outset. This is partly due to will writers charging for extra services, such as lifetime will storage, that solicitors include within the price.
Wills written by solicitors are better quality: Of most significance was the report’s finding that wills written by a firm of solicitors are of better quality than those provided by will writing companies and DIY will service providers. Wills provided through a DIY service were found to be of poorest quality with such wills being most likely to be invalid and most unlikely to actually meet the needs of the customer. In some cases they were found to be detrimental to the customer to the extent that the customer’s assets may not be distributed as they wish when they eventually pass away.
This report highlights the need for individuals to fully consider the service they are receiving. What may appear the cheapest service at the outset my in fact be a false economy with the alternative service provider pressuring you to purchase further services, charging you more than they originally quoted or providing a will that does not fully meet your needs. It also highlights the need for the will writing industry to be fully regulated. Not regulating will writers fails to protect those individuals that choose to go to those service providers, whereas solicitors are fully and comprehensively regulated.
Holmes & Hills Solicitors in Halstead provide specialist services relating to making a Will or updating a Will. In addition to Holmes & Hills' office in Halstead, the firm has offices in Braintree, Sudbury, Tiptree and Coggeshall.