Un-regulated will writing to be investigated by the CMA
By Fiona Haigh
Initial research by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has identified potential risks to customers and possible breaches of consumer protection law.
The three main areas of concern involve will-writing, prepaid probate plans and so called ‘quickie’ divorces .
Will-writing itself is not a regulated service and anyone can legally write a will. You may have seen firms offering online will services or will writing companies offering what appears to be a low cost. Unfortunately, I have seen wills drawn up by people who do not have the relevant experience. They have not advised clients fully, often leaving the client not knowing what they have signed up to.
The CMA’s concerns are:
- Customers being misled by advertising which offers extremely low initial fees for advice but does not indicate that costs can increase significantly
- The use of potentially unfair contract terms, such as exclusions of liability, failure to provide cancellation rights, and terms which automatically appoint the firm as executor of the will (often for a fee)
- Reports of pressure selling and coercion of vulnerable customers
So, why use a solicitor and in particular, why Switalskis?
First of all, solicitors are highly regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. At Switalskis, our solicitors and legal advisers go through a rigorous training process and are highly experienced. We can offer appointments in the office or home visits, if necessary. We want to ensure that you feel valued and will take the time to understand what you want to achieve.
We offer a service that we believe is unique. In our meetings we ask about your relationships, and your family and friends so we can understand who is important to you and why you want to leave your estate in a particular way. We realise that not everyone’s circumstances are straightforward. By documenting what you say we are potentially mitigating the impact of any claims against your estate by anyone who feels they have not been adequately provided for. We want to ensure that your wishes are protected and that the will you make is the right will for you.
In our meeting, we not only talk to you about your intended beneficiaries but will also talk about your financial position so that we can advise you on any potential Inheritance Tax liability and on the allowances that would be available to your estate.
We also keep in touch with our clients to make sure that their will stays up to date with any legal changes. It also gives you the opportunity to review your will to make sure that it is still fit for purpose. Circumstances change and it is important that your will reflects these.
We often find that clients are unaware of or may feel overwhelmed about the steps that need to be taken after a loved one has passed away. In our meetings we make sure that clients are advised about the role of an executor and what their executor needs to do. We offer a bespoke booklet that clients can complete to leave instructions for their executors or messages to their loved ones to assist them in dealing with the estate when the time comes.