Unregulated Will writer loses family heirloom

Published: 02/08/2013

In today’s Metro there was an article about the risk of using ‘cut-price’ and ‘unregulated’ legal advisers. While this applies to all areas of law from conveyancing to personal injury, it is of particular importance when writing a Will.

There has been a lot in the news recently surrounding the regulation of Will writing; a mystery shopping exercise by the Legal Services Board (LSB) prompted calls for the sector to be better regulated after discovering 10% of Wills produced by unqualified Will writers would fail due to invalid execution.

The Government has, however, rejected the calls.

Currently anyone can operate as a Will writer without need of technical qualifications, professional indemnity insurance or continuity arrangements. As a result many loved ones will remain vulnerable despite the best intentions as was the case of Leanne Parkinson who was featured in Metro’s article.

The mother of two had paid £700 to a Will writer to make sure a family member received her mother’s ring following her death. The firm, however, lost the heirloom leaving Mrs Parkinson locked in a lengthy legal battle.

While she managed to recoup a little of the £700 fee, she was left without the ring and without compensation as the firm was not covered by the ombudsman service.

Linda Cummins, Head of Wills and Probate at Goldsmith Williams, comments:

“This is such a sad story but unfortunately it is by no means a one off and one that will continue to affect family after family until there is some form of clear industry standard for customers to look for when appointing a legal adviser.

“That is why we are in full support of the Legal Ombudsman and its call for all legal and professional services in England and Wales to be brought under one scheme. This will not only help customers confused by legal services but also ensure their protection should a mistake ever be made.”

Content correct at time of publication

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