Will-writing is an industry that has had its moment in the spotlight recently, but for the wrong reasons.
In principle, wills can be prepared by anyone, even someone who is not qualified in law. The BBC has recently reported that “around 180,000 wills are written by non-lawyers every year”.
The Legal Ombudsman is a complaints handling body who deals with complaints in relation to the conduct of lawyers. This is a safeguard for clients when things go wrong.
If you have had your Will prepared by a solicitor at a law firm, they are accountable to the Legal Ombudsman.
So what’s the issue here? Well, the Legal Ombudsman does not regulate the activities of will-writers or have any statutory powers over them, which means if the will-writers make mistakes, there is no recourse, as there is no body or company that exists in order to investigate their wrong-doings.
Due to high numbers of complaints about will-writers and more awareness of case studies where people have lost out financially, the government has been urged to reform the current position so that will-writers can be held accountable for their actions.
The Legal Ombudsman has published a report called “Complaints in focus: Wills and Probate” which discusses the issue in greater detail and provides case studies of people who have been affected by the unregulated nature of will-writing. In one particular case study, ‘the client had lost out by £2,000 for paying for preparation of a Will that he never received’. Unfortunately, because the will-writer was not regulated, the Legal Ombudsman could not impose any penalties on the will-writer nor recover the client’s money.
It is important that you have peace of mind when preparing your Will. If you have any queries regarding this article or if you would like to discuss your Will please feel free to telephone or e-mail us at the Owen Kenny Partnership Ltd, Solicitors regulated by the Law Society, on 01243 790532 or firstname.lastname@example.org.