02 March, 2017
Unfortunately in any profession or trade, there any companies and tradesman who are out to rip people off and the legal market is no exception. In my field of expertise namely wills, estate planning and probate, there are many companies out there who offer either very heavily discounted fees often with hefty drawbacks that clients are not made fully aware of, or guarantees that certain products will do certain things when often they do not.
Two recent examples I have come across are to do with wills and care fee planning. The first is a client who used a will writing company found on the internet offering very cheap wills. The client made her Will and under the advice of the company, appointed the company as her executors, even though this was not necessary. The client was unaware that by appointing the firm as executors, she would be agreeing to allow them to charge an automatic 4% of the gross value of her estate plus all legal costs for dealing with the probate on her death. Unfortunately as she was terminally ill, it was not long after signing the will that she died. Immediately after her death, the will writing company started to harass her young husband for over six thousand pounds despite having carried out no work in regards to the administration of the estate.
The second example is a nationwide company who offer free seminars for people looking to protect their assets from care fees. Out of interest, I attended one of these seminars a few years ago and was astonished to discover that the company was not only miss-selling their product but also charging extortionate fees. Essentially they were all but guaranteeing that a trust would protect an individual's assets from care fees, when in reality this may not be the case. They were also charging in excess of £2,500 for setting up the trust in addition to yearly charges, when in comparison, we would charge around £700-800 for the same legal document along with the correct advice.
Neither of these companies are solicitors firms and therefore the work is often carried out by unqualified and unexperienced people. As they are not solicitors, this also means that they are often unregulated and uninsured, so if they act negligently, clients do not have any way of seeking compensation or rectification of the error.
These examples clearly show how important it is to use a qualified and reputable solicitor whenever you require legal work. Not only are solicitors qualified and experienced to do the job in hand, they are also heavily regulated and insured. We are nearly always competitively priced in comparison to these companies and in some cases, our fees may be significantly less.
If you would like any further advice about wills, care fee planning or probate, please do not hesitate to contact Jennifer Wilkinson in our Wills, Probate, Tax and Trusts department or alternatively call Freephone 0800 975 2643 or send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.