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The Dangers of "Cowboy" Will Writers

View profile for Tom Couch
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The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), a global professional body comprising lawyers, accountants, trustees, and other practitioners that help families plan for their futures, has recently published its new report on the unregulated Will writing sector.

The report, which draws upon the collective knowledge of 329 of its members specialising in the Will writing sector, found that “dishonest, unqualified, and incompetent” Will writers are causing bereaved families significant distress and leading to millions in extra tax being paid.

Of the 329 members surveyed:

  • 79% said that they had come across Wills with errors.
  • 63% said that they have come across cases where a Will writing company had quoted a fee for writing a Will but then charged additional costs not covered within the terms of business.
  • 55% had come across cases of incompetence or dishonesty in the drafting and administration of trusts.
  • 54% highlighted their concerns about rogue law firms making false claims about Wills leading to increased tax bills.

One damning example given within STEP’s report was a couple who were told that they would have to pay an annual £49.00 storage fee after spending £4,500.00 on their Wills – which then increased to £89.00 a year.

Sarah Manuel, STEP’s Head of Professional Standards, said: ‘Anyone can set themselves up as a will writer leaving unsuspecting members of the public without protection. All too often, people don’t realise that they have been a victim of rogue will advice until it is too late for themselves and their families.’

Drafting a Will can be complex and it is crucial that Will writers are trained, and have a recognised specialist qualification with proven experience and insurance.

At Biscoes we believe in offering you a transparent pricing policy. An essential part of our role as your legal adviser is to ensure clients are aware of pricing outcomes under different circumstances. We use bespoke pricing estimation, combined with a choice of fixed-fee Will packages and our extensive experience to ensure that all clients are informed.