Having read an article recently about a former legal executive from an East Sussex law firm, I was astounded to read that despite being placed in charge of Will writing and probate, she had absolutely no formal legal training.
Leanne Harris of Arscotts Solicitors in Hove went on to commit probate fraud; stealing almost £500,000 from clients. It is reported, that this was to maintain a lifestyle many of us can only dream of.
Mrs Harris made transactions between clients’ accounts and wrote several false cheques to obtain the money. She also took advantage of one client, for whom she had been given power of attorney, taking almost £65,000 from the woman.
This case continues to highlight the need for the Will writing industry to be regulated – a move which is absolutely supported by IWC Ltd. Currently, the industry is self-regulated but it is highly unlikely that Mrs Harris would ever have been accepted within any of the industry bodies without having had any formal training.
This is a lesson to all of us – when looking for a Will writing and probate expert, always check that they are a member of an appropriate organisation.
An interesting, yet sickening case has been highlighted, whereby a woman has been charged with forgery, after inventing a Will after her partner was found dead at his home.
After finding her partner dead, Karen Phillips went on to forge a Will before notifying the deceased’s family and indicating that he had written a Will prior to his death – a Will in which it is claimed that she was to be the sole beneficiary of his Estate, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Unfortunately for the accused, the Will was obviously full of errors which raised the suspicions of the deceased’s family members during probate. They then went on to contact the police.
It is unfortunate that the man in question, particularly being the owner of a business, had not had a Will professionally prepared and several copies distributed to its principal beneficiaries and family members, before he died.
Although he was only in his forties, and so no doubt felt that he was in the prime of his life, making a will would have removed any doubt about what should happen and how his Estate should be distributed, thus preventing any probate fraud from taking place.