Will Writer Or Solicitor? It’s Your Choice!
We often get asked by potential clients what is the difference between us and Solicitors as, on the face of it, we do the same job. Up until the mid 1980’s, any legal advice and documentation pertaining to Wills and Estate Planning or Inheritance Protection, was the sole domain of those who had qualified as and were practising as a Solicitor. The law was changed at that point to enable a wider choice to the public and to increase competition, with the aim of increasing the numbers of persons who actually bothered to make a Will, by making it easier to do so. It was at that point that a whole new “breed” of professionals arrived on the scene using the title of Will Writers. Interestingly, the law made no stipulation about this new “breed” having to qualified to any degree, or being regulated in any way. As with most things in life, there were some “chancers” who took advantage of this situation by being neither qualified nor professional in any way whatsoever. Will Writers – also known as Estate Planners, Trust Advisors and Inheritance Advisors – are not regulated by law to this day although there has been much talk of it happening. The Lord Chancellor’s latest ruling (2013/14) was that it was to remain an unregulated activity although it’s principles were still under scrutiny – so it may well happen in the future. Most of us professional Will Writers believe it should be regulated and welcome the day it comes in to force.
It’s therefore your choice whom you choose to make your Will with. If you choose a solicitor – do be sure he is a specialist in Wills and not just a “general practitioner”. Many solicitors consider the area of Will Writing too complicated and therefore time consuming to them. Also, bear in mind that solicitors often charge by the hour for their advice on top of a fee for the production of documents. Please also be aware that many solicitors will appoint themselves as Executors/Trustees alongside family members and this appointment, following your death, will incur costs at an hourly rate and/or a fee of about 5-6% of the total gross value of your Estate.
If making your Will with a specialist Will Writer, first be sure that they are members of a recognised Trade Body such as the Institute of Professional Will Writers, Society of Will Writers or Estate Planners Network. My Company is a member of the two latter bodies and is bound by their codes of conduct. Will Writers are specialists in the field of Wills, Estate Planning, Trusts and any matter related to Inheritance – the advise they give therefore is likely to much more focussed and precise. The amount of CPD (Continuous Professional Development) required by the Will Writers’ profesional bodies is 24 hours annually. This is not the case with solicitors.
A Will Writer will usually meet you at a time suitable to you (including evenings) at your own home. The interview will last approx. an hour and a half with a full fact find so that all your circumstances are disclosed and taken in to account. You have the right to cancel your instruction within a 14 day “cooling off” period. This is also not so with solicitors. Draft documents are then produced within seven days for your approval.
Finally, a full complaints procedure is available through all Will Writers who are members of such professional bodies, so that if you are dissatisfied in any way, you have recourse to a resolution. Likewise if any of their advice turns out to be incorrect or unsuitable for your case, you have recourse to resolutions as each member is required to have at least £2.5 million of Professional Indemnity Insurance.
A last point to consider – most professional Will Writers will give you the chance to review your Will and other documents on a regular basis and remind you that such reviews are due. This is one of the most vital services they provide so that your Will is always up-to-date and reflects your current circumstances.