LEGAL EAGLE: Making a ‘DIY’ will is risky so only trust the legal experts

Trying to make your own “DIY will” is a risky business. Hartlepool solicitors Tilly Bailey & Irvine explain why you should only trust a firm of legal experts for the task of making a will.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 12:00 am
Surely, it is better to instruct your local solicitor who has a duty to look after any documents they hold for you.

Are you thinking it’s time to start drafting a Will or Family Trust? Maybe an estate plan? The first step after making that decision is to find your solicitor.

At this stage, with your family at helm of these important decisions, it is something that cannot be cobbled together lightly. People have been prone to letting Will Writers prepare their Wills and also assist with other arrangements for their personal affairs.

Will Writing is an unregulated business and there are rogue firms out there. The company should be signed up to an industry trade body, such as the Society of Will Writers or the Institute of Professional Will Writers.

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However, this does not mean there will not be problems. Some Will Writers leave you to sign your own Wills and have them witnessed. The formality for signing Wills are strict and it is easy to go wrong. If you sign your Will in your Solicitor’s office there is a presumption that the formalities have been complied with.

Rogue Cases

I have seen cases where Will Writers have made Lasting Powers of Attorney for a client but these have not been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. If there is any technical defect with the document, this may not be discovered until it is too late.

I have also seen cases where clients have not signed the Lasting Powers of Attorney, so they are not valid.

A Will Writing firm based in Nottingham recently went into administration causing concern for clients who had been referred to them by their bank. The Will Writers were holding documents and clients experienced a difficulty in obtaining them from storage. In one case, they had also been appointed as Trustees.

The fees charged are not always as reasonable as may be initially indicated, particularly for ‘Add On services’. Check to see what your own Solicitor would charge for the same work and what they would advise.

Surely, it is better to instruct your local Solicitor in your high street who has a duty to look after any documents they hold for you. If the firm ceases to practice then the items will be passed on to another firm, or if a firm was not succeeded by another practice then any documents are held by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, so they remain safe.