Preston and Chorley-based solicitors, Marsden Rawsthorn, is warning people about the dangers of DIY Wills, as the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) looks to bring Will-writing under legal services regulation. The firm is urging individuals to seek professional advice when preparing a Will, in order to meet legal requirements and avoid financial pitfalls.
Research in 2011 found that approximately one quarter of Wills were deemed to be of insufficient quality, or more worryingly, not legally valid due to inadequate or inconsistent content, insufficient detail, poor presentation or a failure to meet the client’s requirements. As a result of these findings, the SRA began work with the Legal Services Bureau (LSB) to review the legal status of Will-writing and related activities.
Now the LSB has recommended that Will-writing should become a reserved activity, meaning that only qualified solicitors or barristers can undertake it, much like other areas of law such as conveyancing, litigation, probate and advocacy.
The aim is to protect consumers from poor quality wills and unfair sales practices by ensuring all Will-writers and solicitors firms meet the required standards. However, popular off-the-shelf Will-writing kits available on the high street are often no better, says Ashley Marshall, Wills and probate partner at Marsden Rawsthorn. He said: “The problem with DIY Wills is that sometimes they are not even worth the paper they are written on because they don’t comply with formalities.
"Our clients can save literally hundreds of thousands of pounds in inheritance tax and can protect assets and beneficiaries from care fees, by making a number of simple changes to their Will. Not only does this provide financial security for their loved ones, it offers emotional security too."
"SRA regulation will help to ensure Will-writers fall in line with the required standards and this is another reason for people to seek professional advice and not be tempted to do it themselves."
Authorised and Regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority. Authority number 591294.
For details of the professional rules governing the conduct of solicitors go to www.sra.org.uk/code-of-conduct.page