A will writing company approaches you about making your will and you think, “It is about time I got round to it.” But then you wonder, “What’s the difference between a will writer and a solicitor?”
Will writers seem to offer the same services as a solicitor – they draft a will from your instructions. They might even seem slightly cheaper. But consider the risks and the hidden costs.
Solicitors are highly trained, fully insured and strictly regulated. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) ensures that solicitors conduct their business in your interests and that there is a form of redress if things go wrong.
Some will writing companies are unregulated. There may be no control over the training they receive, no requirement for them to keep insurance in place to protect you in the event of error and no guarantee of the quality of legal advice on offer. Wills stored by will writers have sometimes gone missing, even when storage charges have been paid for years. If a will writing company closes down, the documents they store may be lost for good. But if a law firm closes for whatever reason, the SRA will ensure that the documents are then stored by another firm and the clients are told.
The fact many people’s estates are not that simple any more (what with care home fees, tax implications and complicated family situations, amongst other things) means an accurately drafted will is more important than ever to ensure that, when you die, your estate is dealt with as you want it to be.
Many will writing companies offer low cost wills that include significant fees to be paid once you have died as part of a probate package deal. Solicitors are obliged to make all costs clear from the outset, and have the necessary training to ensure the advice they give is accurate and appropriate for you.
All in all, with something as important as what you leave to who when you die, it is of the utmost importance that you trust the person who is making your will.