The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced an investigation into the practices of non-regulated Wills writers. The investigation will also look into the practices of pre-pair probate services and online divorces. The concerns arise from the perception that the organisations providing these services are failing to comply with consumer protection law.
In this article, we will focus on non-regulated Will writers services.
What are non-regulated Will writers services?
Solicitors who provide the same types of services are regulated by the Law Society of Scotland even though the actual services themselves are unregulated. That essentially means that anyone can decide to offer these services. Clearly, there are inherent dangers of someone offering a Will writing services where they have never had any experience of delivering such services.
The CMA have expressed about the following:
- Misleading advertising offering very low initial fee but with significant final costs;
- Potentially unfair contract terms, including exclusion of any liability, no cancellation rights and automatically appointing the provider as executor; and
- Pressure selling and coercion of vulnerable customers.
There is also a concern about what happens to Wills which a non-regulated Will writer prepares and holds for the client should the non-regulated Will writer go bust. What will happen to the Wills they hold and where will they be held? Also, what happens to any payments that have been made to the organisation before the Will is produced?
Why you should use a solicitor to prepare your Will
Whenever we ask clients why they instruct us to prepare their Will for them, the overriding response is trust. Clients trust their solicitor to prepare their Will.
Clients know that solicitors offering Will writing services are qualified to deliver these services. They have professional qualifications and practical experience in advising clients on drawing up their Wills. They can explain the law in detail and describe the options available to clients to give effect to their wishes.
If a solicitor makes a mistake, clients are protected through the compulsory professional indemnity insurance all solicitors in Scotland must have. Solicitors in Scotland cannot practice unless they hold this insurance.
When it comes to the cost, solicitors are required by the Law Society of Scotland, to provide their Terms of Business to the client and explain the cost of the service.
If something goes wrong, there is a robust and effective complaints and claims process allowing clients to seek redress should there be a service or conduct issue.
For all these reasons, it makes very good sense to instruct a solicitor to draw up your Will. It will:
- Give you certainty that the law has been properly explained to you;
- Give you the comfort to know about all the costs up front;
- Provide you with the protection of insurance should there be a mistake; and
- Allow you to complain to a regulatory body should something go wrong.
Finally, if you have used a non-regulated Will writer in the past and wish to comment on the CMA investigation, please email them with your comments to UnregulatedLegalServicesTeam@cma.gov.uk.
If you want to draw up or change your Will, what should you do?
There is no comparison between the services of a solicitor and those of a non-regulated Will writer. If the CMA were not concerned with the practices of Will writers, they would not have issued an investigation.
So, if you want to draw up or change your Will, please call Stacey Parker on 01383 629720 or email Stacey by clicking here.