Storage of wills
When choosing a will writer, it's always advisable that you ask about storage of wills.
A will writing firm will usually offer to keep drafted wills in storage indefinitely, so that when the time comes for executors to seek out the details, the deceased's express wishes can be supplied to them without any problem.
Sadly, as with any industry, there are unscrupulous firms out there who may well go out of business before the wills are retrieved. What happens then?
Firstly, you should always do your research to ensure that the will writing firm you choose is well established and has an excellent reputation. Secondly, it should be a member of an organisation such as The Society of Will Writers. This self-regulating body offers a degree of protection, so that if one of its members acts unprofessionally, leaving a customer high and dry, the Society would at least pick up the pieces and rectify the situation.
Be wary of simply choosing the first will writing company that appears at the top of your online search. Ensure that its website includes valid testimonials and that it offers exceptional customer service. It's never wise to automatically choose the cheapest firm, either. Use your head and seek out the most reputable will writing services in the country – you could save time, money and anxiety in the long term.
The Society of Will Writers says no to pre-paid probate plans
The Society of Will Writers will shortly adopt a new code of conduct, forbidding members to offer pre-paid probate plans to clients.
The pre-paid probate plans claim to review client assets periodically, thereby offering the following benefits:
a. A faster probate process – easing the strain on loved ones left behind
b. Potentially reducing inheritance tax liability
Unfortunately, the report reveals that there is little substance to these claims, and that in addition, the plans (called "PPPs) can require "an element of risk". Indeed it goes further, recommending that: "It is better, it seems, to rely on the services of a trustworthy traditional probate service provider".
IWC Ltd is a member of The Society of Will Writers but does not request advance payment for acting in the administration of a client's estate, nor does the company promote the use of PPPs.
Recently, the Legal Services Board (LSB), recommended to the Lord Chancellor that will writing should only be carried out by regulated professionals.
This is of course the first positive step in what will inevitably prove a long and challenging road for will writing regulation. In the meantime, the SWW is campaigning to allow clients fast and easy access to the Legal Ombudsman, should they be dissatisfied with any aspect of the service they have received to date.
It is certainly heartening however, to learn that these two professional bodies are actively driving this campaign for will writing regulation, which must surely only benefit those involved in the industry and their clients.
The LSB in drafting these recommendations also advised that estate administration activities needs no further regulation stating that regulation would not be able to stop criminal activity. IWC wholeheartedly agreed with this finding and IWC Director Tony Crocker was pleased to read that his viewpoint would appear to have been listened to. Afterall if regulation was the answer why are there some solicitors convicted of fraud against estates.