1000 Will-related files found dumped on pavement

From The Law Society Gazette

Thursday 04 August 2011 by Jonathan Rayner

More than 1,000 files containing wills and other confidential information were recently found dumped on the pavement outside a will-writing company in Doncaster, the Society of Will Writers (SWW) revealed this week.

The files were left by staff at another will-writing company, Gainsborough-based Minster Legal Services (MLS), which ceased trading in March on the death of its sole director, solicitor David Hodgson, in February.

The Doncaster company, Express Law, contacted SWW on finding the documents, which then collected them for safe keeping. SWW has so far succeeded in returning 300 of the documents to clients.

SWW director general Brian McMillan said the society has since discovered that MLS had a national network of consultants targeting local charity groups, particularly the elderly, and clients had paid thousands of pounds for wills and trusts that they have never received.

He said the case highlighted the need for will-writers and will-writing companies to be licensed.

‘Four or five years ago, we had to rescue other files that had been abandoned in a barn in Somerset. People pay good money in the belief they are going to receive a valid will. Operators like this taint us all,’ he said.

A Solicitors Regulation Authority spokesman said that MLS was not regulated by it, as it was not a solicitors’ firm. He added that the SRA had placed conditions on Hodgson’s practising certificate in September last year.

Last month, the Legal Services Board announced that it would launch a formal investigation into whether will-writing should be regulated, following a recommendation by the Legal Services Consumer Panel.

Further proof, if any were needed, of the need to regulate the writing of Wills.


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