Posted on 16th August 2011

Elderly at Risk over Will Writing by Unqualified Salesmen

Andrew Way, Partner and member of Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners and Solicitors for the ElderlyLatimer Hinks is warning people about will writing by companies who do not have the credentials or insurance.

A recent survey showed that 67% of consumers wrongly believe that all will writers are solicitors and 82% of the 1,000 people polled thought that training and qualifications are required before someone can become a will writer. The trade is not in fact, regulated and anyone can write a will for payment.

The announcement coincides with recent news that around 1,000 confidential files relating to peoples wills were dumped on the doorstep of a legal firm after a rival will writing company closed down. The files containing sensitive legal information were recovered by officials from a trade body to ensure safekeeping.

The UKs Legal Ombudsmen has called for caution when using will writing companies that offer discounts and pressurise potential customers into buying. Salesmen often claim to be significantly cheaper, however research carried out by Which? Magazine suggested that there is little difference in price between will writers and fully regulated solicitors.

Andrew Way is a Partner at Latimer Hinks, which has a team comprising qualified members of STEP Society of Trust Estate Practitioners and of Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE).

Andrew said: "The figures published show that the elderly can be targeted by unaccredited salesmen, falsely claiming to be qualified in this area. This can often be at a heavily discounted price and companies can apply high-pressure sales techniques to vulnerable people who arent aware of potential consequences of using untrained will writers.

"Unaccredited firms that are known to carry out will writing are also not audited to deal with confidentiality requirements, as we have witnessed with the recent news of over 1,000 files that were disregarded on another firms doorstep.

Law professionals are calling for will writing companies to be regulated, after a number of cases where salesmen appoint themselves as executors, selling other services without qualified advice and providing complicated terms and conditions.

Andrew added: "Families should be aware of those companies which are not regulated, unlike solicitors and legal executives who are, have relevant qualifications and undergo continual training. Law professionals are also insured, to ensure peace of mind if any difficulties arise after a loved one has passed away.