In the ever-complicated landscape of will writing, consumers often find themselves navigating treacherous waters, especially when it comes to unregulated legal services.
We have written previously about the benefits of using trusted legal services, but there are many other options available.
Sometimes these services can often appear to be cheaper, but the Competition and Markets Authority is launching an investigation into companies providing unregulated legal services.,
We believe that consumers deserve better education on selecting suitably qualified and trained advisors, as the repercussions of inadequate wills can be devastating, often noticed only when it's too late to rectify.
This blog delves into the reasons why opting for legal advice, even if it seems costly, is an investment in ensuring your final wishes are respected, protected, and legally binding.
Crackdown On Consumer Law Breaches
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a new investigation into potential consumer law breaches in unregulated legal services.
The CMA has identified three main areas of concern; Will writing, Pre-paid Probate and online divorce.
The potential areas of concern already highlighted include:
• misleading advertising
• unfair contract terms
• pressure selling
• lack of transparency on costs
• and the suitability of products being sold
An update on the CMA investigation is due later this year.
Our Will-writing experts at Monan Gozzett LLP welcome the review.
We regularly come across poorly drafted Wills that either don’t make sense, don’t achieve the person’s wishes or simply are not valid at all.
We are contacted by people who have been misled, overcharged and, to a degree, coerced through a complete lack of understanding of what they are doing.
When making a Will, total trust is placed upon the person drawing up the legally binding document, and consumers need better education on how to choose a suitably qualified and trained advisor.
Whilst there are many capable unregulated Will Writers out there, using an unregulated Will Writer leaves you open to a much higher risk when things go wrong than if you have written the same Will with a Solicitor.
Sadly, due to the nature of Wills, mistakes are often only noticed when it is too late.
Poorly drafted Wills are not exclusive to the unregulated sector.
But should a regulated individual not comply with codes of conduct, best practice and ongoing professional development regulations, they face repercussions.
This could include being fined, stripped of their practising rights, or even being given a prison sentence.
Regulated individuals will also have professional indemnity insurance, so those left to pick up the pieces will at least have someone to sue if it goes wrong.
It is not unknown for an unregulated Will Writer to simply go into liquidation, only to reopen a few weeks later under a slightly different name.
Many people perceive using a Solicitor to be the “expensive” option, lured in by cheaper fixed fees quoted by unregulated companies.
However, all too often, we see additional fees added to this fixed fee, taking a £99 Will to a few hundred or even a few thousand pounds after a client has been mis-sold unnecessary packages and other miscellaneous charges for things like storing a Will have been added on.
Recently we have also seen companies popping up offering pre-paid Probate plans.
The CMA's concerns about these plans include:
• Pressure selling tactics.
• Lack of transparency on costs
• Plans that are unnecessary of fail to serve their purpose
Lack of customer awareness that their money may not be adequately protected.
Certain aspects of estate administration are restricted legal activities, and so to do those activities professionally, you have to be sufficiently qualified.
Those regulations are there for a reason.
Monan Gozzett’s Will Writing Services
Our private client team at Monan Gozzett is led by Stephen Sampson, a solicitor who has over 15 years of experience in preparing Wills.
Stephen is a full member of STEP (the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners), a full member of Solicitors for the Elderly, and holds the STEP Advanced Certificate in Will Preparation, in which he achieved the highest mark in the country in 2014 and 2015.
Contact our private client team today to see how we can help.