Rising Numbers Ripped Off By Will-Writing Services Warns Tayntons LLP - Wills, Trusts & Probate Solicitors
Gloucester-based solicitor firm Tayntons LLP is warning people to beware of companies offering cut-price will-writing services following a surge in clients who have fallen victim to substandard and illegal practices - as the Scottish government tables new rules to regulate the industry.
Tayntons on Clarence Street has reported a significant rise in the number of people seeking advice after making wills with the aid of will-writing agencies.
Although in themselves perfectly legal, such companies can be entirely unregulated and this means their writers require no legal training, says Tayntons’ wills and probate solicitor Tristan Lewis.
He said: “Problems our clients have encountered range from crucial technical errors in the wills themselves, to being harassed by the companies and unlawfully denied a ‘cooling off’ period during which they have a right to change their minds”.
Huge hidden charges are also an issue, with many agencies asking for hundreds of pounds each year to store a will – a service usually carried out for free by a solicitor.
The rise in individuals seeking cut price advice could be attributed to people trying to save money in the credit crunch, explained Mr Lewis.
“There are a number of reasons why people use will-writing agencies and I am sure the prospect of financial saving is top of their agenda”.
“The irony is however, that often the wills drawn up are not worth the paper they are written on – or worse still, could actually end up costing the client thousands of pounds.”
A recent case highlights how seemingly simple mistakes in a will can put a person’s future in jeopardy.
Mr Lewis said: “I had a case in which a client and her husband had a joint will made, believing they had protected their home against potential nursing home fees.
“However, on the death of the husband it came to light that due to a drafting error in the will, this was not the case at all.
“Thankfully, we were able to sort out the situation as quickly as possible, but had the mistake gone unnoticed, the surviving spouse could have had her deceased husband’s half of the house absorbed by care fees, leaving her children with a severely diminished inheritance.”
Although there are some perfectly respectable will writing companies around, for Mr Lewis, the message is clear – do your research before procuring any will-writing services.
“Do your research and make sure the company you are employing is a reputable one. Better still, seek legal advice from a recognised firm of quality solicitors.
“People can rest assured that solicitors are fully regulated and of course have the appropriate legal training. Furthermore, many firms offer a free initial consultation which enables people to raise any questions they may have obligation-free”.
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- Tayntons LLP
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