My Mate Says: “You Need a Solicitor to Write Your Will and to Act as Executor”
It’s really very dangerous indeed to listen to your mate or the guy down at the pub when it comes to vital matters like this. With the best will in the world – they can often give a totally wrong impression and mis-direct you unwittingly. ALWAYS take advice from experts in the field. This is true of engaging Solicitors too – make sure before you consider using a Solicitor to make your Will, that he/she is a specialist in the area of Wills, Probate, Trusts and so on before you instruct them. It is entirely possible hat he/she is a “general practitioner” of all aspects of the law, and has no specialist knowledge of Wills, Trusts and the like. In this instance, he/she may have had a few hours training at Law School on this particular subject, so maybe is not at all well-versed!
Your mate down the pub is wrong when he says that a Solicitor must be used to write your Will. This used to be the case, but since the late eighties, this area of the law has been “de-regulated” from Solicitors and a whole new market subsequently opened up as a result. This is when Will Writers and Estate Planners came in to being. They specialise in ONLY Wills, Trusts, Probate and all allied areas of inheritance-related matters. Because their advice is concentrated on a relatively small (but complex) area of the law, they are focussed and (generally) more knowlegeable. But, as with all things in life, the will-writing profession is not without its “sharks”. It is wise to research your intended provider first and verify his/her credentials. In the field of Will Writers, which is NOT yet regulated by any official body in law, it is wise to choose a Company/Individual who is a member of a recognised industry body such as The Society of Will Writers or the Institute of Professional Will Writers. They insist that their members abide by a Code of Conduct which is really very stringent and stipulates, amongst other things, a Continuous Professional Development programme for each member of 24 hours per year (far more than Solicitors); Professional Indemnity Insurance of at least £2.5m; regular Criminal Record Checks and most importantly a 14 day cooling-off period, during which you can change your mind and cancel any instruction given – because Will Writers visit you in your own home, so come under the different rules of service providers from Solicitors. My Company is a long-standing member of The Society of Will Writers and is bound by it’s Code of Conduct, a copy of which is available on request.
With regard to your mate’s comment about it being necessary for a Solicitor to undertake the Executorship of a Will – this too is rubbish! Most of my clients choose people they know and trust to act as Executor in their Will, and that is absolutely fine! However, what those persons need to know is that it is NOT necessary, following the death of the person who made the Will, to then appoint a Solicitor (or any other professional) alongside. Lay persons may undertake the Execution of a Will together with the application for a Grant of Probate themselves. It is not “rocket science” – simply a bureaucratic process which has to be approached in a particular order. Most Will Writers, like myself, will offer you a helping hand through this process. If the Will is very complex and the appointed Executors feel they NEED to employ a professional alongside, again a responsible Will Writer will have links with Trust Corporations (such as the SWW Trust, which is allied to the Society of Will Writers) who charge a fixed fee for their service rather than a percentage of the Estate value (sometimes as high as 6, 7 or 8%) charged by most Solicitors and Banks. So, PLEASE be aware of the pitfalls!
In short, if you want good advice on this highly specialist subject – come to an expert! My Company will give you thirty minutes of advice free of charge and any obligation to proceed.