Richard Smith

Partner & Solicitor

DATE PUBLISHED: 25 Jun 2024 LAST UPDATED: 25 Jun 2024

Beware – Rogue and DIY Will Writers!

A recent article published by the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP) highlights the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) investigation into the UK’s unregulated legal services market and the potential risks to consumers in the unregulated Will writing sector. Consumers should be aware as to the potential risks and pitfalls to what unregulated Will writing services may present.

The CMA stated:

“Many unregulated providers offer services that are… less expensive than the services offered by regulated providers. It is estimated that there are at least 3,800 unregulated businesses providing legal services in England and Wales alone, with the largest number in the area of wills and estate administration.”

 

Covering all bases

The CMA’s statement is daunting. Having an incorrectly drafted Will might prove costly if the Will provider has not ‘covered all bases’, pay close attention to:

  • Making sure that the Will is in accordance with the Testator’s wishes;
  • Whether the Testator has sufficient mental capacity to make a Will;
  • The formalities are complied with when drafting the Will;
  • Assets;
  • The Law;
  • Tax considerations.

An invalid or an incorrectly drafted Will might mean you or your loved one’s Estate is subject to the laws of intestacy once they die. This means your Estate could pass to relatives contrary to your wishes. By having a carefully drafted Will this can be avoided.

What’s more an incorrectly drafted Will may land your loved ones with an Inheritance Tax (IHT) bill that could have been avoided. You should take expert advice at the earliest possible opportunity to ensure tailored Estate planning is put in place from the onset.

DIY Wills

On a separate but related topic, individuals must be aware to the dangers when drafting their own ‘DIY’ Will. The case of Henrietta Ingram and another v Simon Timothy Abraham and another [2023] EWHC 1982 (Ch) (Henrietta) highlights the issue of DIY Wills. The Testator had two Wills, the first Will in 2008 and the final Will in 2019. The 2019 Will was created by using an online template with the help of their brother (who was found to have misled the Testator to such an extent that the Will was not admitted to probate, and the earlier was admitted instead). The 2019 Will was found to have lacked the requirements and it did not express the Testator’s wishes. The 2019 Will failed.

The damming case of Henrietta could have been avoided provided that the Testator instructed a professional Solicitor to compose and draft the 2019 Will. DIY Wills could increase the risk of abuse and fraud by exploitive family members. – Daniel Watson – Taxation Magazine 2023

The moral of the story

Do not be tempted by a ‘cheap’ Will. It is important to have your Will drafted by a professional who can create a bespoke Will tailored to your needs and interests.

While it may seem daunting, it need not be, provided expert advice is taken at the earliest possible opportunity and making sure your Will and estate planning is professionally reviewed.

How can Ellis Jones help?

If you are unsure or need professional advice with your Will, please visit our Wills, Trusts and Probate webpage. You can contact the team on 01202 525 333 or by emailing Richard.smith@ellisjones.co.uk. Alternatively, you can also contact our Wills, Trusts and Probate team by emailing willenquiries@ellisjones.co.uk.

 

About the authors

Richard Smith

Richard Smith is a Partner and Solicitor in our Wills, Trusts and Probate department and is based in our Bournemouth office.

Alex Chance

Alex Chance is a Legal Placement from Bournemouth University and is gaining experience in our Wills, Trusts & Probate department.

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