Making A Will In The UK – You Get What You Pay For

You may not be aware that there is going to be a rather big change in the provision of some legal services in the near future.  As of 6th October 2011 the first Alternative Business Structures (ABS’s) will be open for business.  These are simply non-solicitor owned companies who can offer certain legal services.

Non-solicitor legal services are not an entirely a new phenomenon but have been limited to “non-reserved activities” such as making a Will.   You may have seen the BBC Panorama programme last year which highlighted some of the bad experiences people had when using some Will writing companies, and although we would recommend you err on the side of caution; it is still important for people not to be put off from making a Will.

We are frequently asked by people who have either been approached or have used the services of a Will writing company only to find out later, and most of the time when it is too late, that they have not received the service they thought they had paid for.

The son of a deceased man recently came to our offices with a copy of a Will that his late father had made. The Will was very concise but thankfully still carried out his father’s wishes.  The initial cost of the Will had been £25.00 when it was written in 2001.  This was however, followed by storage costs of £10.50 per month.  By the date of his death, the man’s father had paid approximately £1,250.00 for his Will. 

Another example was some clients who had again made their Wills using a Will writing company.  They came to Forbes Solicitors for other legal services and we agreed to cast our eye over the Wills to be certain that they did what they intended.  On review of the Wills, it quickly became obvious that the Wills had not been written or executed correctly.  After the cost of writing the Wills and the storage fees paid to date, our clients had spent nearly £2,000 storing documents which had no legal validity.

It is vital to ensure that your Will is correctly and legally written, then signed and witnessed because you may not be around to clarify matters when it takes full effect.  In the UK, both Solicitors and Lawyers are required to comply with regulations set down by the Law Society, who ensure that professional training and competence are backed up by a compensation scheme should anything go badly wrong.

The cost of making a Will varies a great deal. Some Wills are relatively straightforward to write and others Wills are more complex.  Issues such as family trusts, inheritance tax planning and guardianships may arise, so these need to be taken into account when comparing costs.

Although change is inevitable, it is sometimes better to stick to who/what you know.  Solicitors offer a highly professional Will writing service and, like all other companies, there is a fee for that service.  Always ensure that you know what you are getting in return for your money.  There is no such thing as a free lunch and if it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.

Kirsten Bradley is a Wills, Probate, Tax and Trusts Solicitor at Forbes Solicitors in Preston. For an initial consultation please call freephone 0800 975 2463 or contact our Solicitors online.

This entry was posted in Wills, Tax, Trusts and Probate.