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Will writer or solicitor? The debate continues

Recent news items in newspapers and on TV continue to highlight the existence and practice of unscrupulous so-called “will writers” who are, quite often, inexperienced businesspeople simply looking to make money.

The problem is of course exacerbated by the sensitive nature of the business, and the fact that the industry is not fully regulated, instead asking for voluntary membership of professional bodies such as The Society of Will Writers.

Government plans are afoot to introduce some sort of legislation into the industry to stop this bad practice and prevent vulnerable clients from being taken advantage of.  However, one suggestion which tends to arise repeatedly, is that will writing activities and probate responsibility should lie solely with solicitors, who are all qualified and regulated.

This is something which truly professional will writers are fighting against, arguing that solicitors are not necessarily trained in probate law and Estate planning, and that fees will undoubtedly be raised in order to cater for the rise in demand, should this step be taken.

Support for the argument against simply handing over this area of law to solicitors’ practices to avoid unscrupulous individuals was given earlier this week, from a report in a Lincolnshire newspaper, which stated that a partner in the Wills and Probate department of a firm of Grantham-based solicitors, had been arrested on charges of theft and money laundering.

Charged with 19 offences, the partner will appear in court alongside four other people.

It seems then, that of course every industry and sector has its own renegades and its own individuals who are simply out to make a fast buck.  Surely then, the knee jerk reaction of removing the entire industry and replacing its services elsewhere, cannot be effective and is not a sensible option?

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