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MSE News: Legal watchdog wants will writers regulated

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Marriage, Relationships & Families
17 replies 2.4K views
Former_MSE_HelenFormer_MSE_Helen
2.4K posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Marriage, Relationships & Families
This is the discussion thread for the following MSE News Story:

"Will writers in England and Wales should be regulated to give greater protection to consumers, says Legal Services Board"
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  • michaelsmichaels Forumite
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    In other news turkeys suggest Christmas should be cancelled this year....
    I think....
  • A major problem is the solicitor wanting to be the Executor, which entitles them to something like 10% or more of the estate. So if the estate is a £400,000 house, that's £40,000 for writing a dozen letters.

    In the Will, it just says this solicitor is the appointed Executor,
    so the testator doesn't realise 10% is gone in fees. In the worse case scenario, the house has to be sold, so the spouse is now homeless!

    On the other hand, some people are so clueless, a conscientious Will writer can still end up writing non-sense.
  • John_PierpointJohn_Pierpoint Forumite
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    My thoughts on improving the standard of will writers are here:
    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?p=52664207#post52664207

    I am still not clear as to how someone with "vulnerable" beneficiaries can protect them from a profiteering "professional" executor.
    There is a very real cost in acting as an executor, that cannot necessarily be be quantified before the probate and distribution has been achieved.

    There is also a very real problem of reviewing wills and keeping them up to date (judging by the numbers still coming forward on this forum written prior to 2007).
  • Pincher wrote: »
    A major problem is the solicitor wanting to be the Executor, which entitles them to something like 10% or more of the estate. So if the estate is a £400,000 house, that's £40,000 for writing a dozen letters.

    In the Will, it just says this solicitor is the appointed Executor,
    so the testator doesn't realise 10% is gone in fees. In the worse case scenario, the house has to be sold, so the spouse is now homeless!

    On the other hand, some people are so clueless, a conscientious Will writer can still end up writing non-sense.
    10% gone in fees is I feel a bit OTT. The Banks themselves only charge a maximum of 6%-7% except when the estate is very small in which case it could be as high as 10% but on £400,000 such a percentage is very unlikely unless the estate was very very complicated.
    Solicitors would generally charge less and their costs are overseen by the Law Society so such charges if made would have to be quantified.
  • John_PierpointJohn_Pierpoint Forumite
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    It sounds like an exaggeration to me as well BUT presumably the solicitor did the conveyancing via his firm and not by using a fixed fee internet conveyancer?
  • su51sklsu51skl Forumite
    5 posts
    how can i get a valid will and keep it myself i dont trust lawyers i dont want to use a lawyer, i have done a home made will out the town shop that sells them,
    i done one with the union but never sent it back as i was told they take my money,
    i want to make sure my son gets everything thats mine,
    scottish law.
  • http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/productsandservices/practicenotes/executorships/4906.article

    "You should also inform the client whether the fees quoted are based on:
    1. an hourly rate, and/or
    2. a percentage of the estate."
    No limit on the percentage. Provided the solicitor's firm can establish they usually charge by percentage, it is up to the beneficiary to prove the deceased was never told the basis of charging.

    You are presented with a bill for the Will, say £150.
    Along with it you are given a General Terms of Instruction, which sets out some usual responsibility and liabilities. It is sufficiently general and large for you to not read it properly and just sign the letter that acknowledge that you "received" it.

    20 years later, your estate is worth £1million pound, and you die.

    If the beneficiary is allowed to change Executor without going to court, I think we would all find somebody who does what they are told.

    http://www.oft.gov.uk/news-and-updates/press/2010/64-10
  • su51skl wrote: »
    how can i get a valid will and keep it myself i dont trust lawyers i dont want to use a lawyer, i have done a home made will out the town shop that sells them,
    i done one with the union but never sent it back as i was told they take my money,
    i want to make sure my son gets everything thats mine,
    scottish law.

    This is a quick guide:

    http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Documents/Donate/Legacies/Step_by_step.pdf

    A Will is subject to challenge. You can crash-land on a Pacific Island, and write a note on toilet paper before a cannibal eats you that you want to leave everything to your cat, and if nobody disputes it, it will be taken as your instruction. On the other hand, you can get a lawyer and categorically leave Anna Nicole Smith nothing, she will just fight until she gets some anyway.

    I would spend the money for a Will writer or solicitor, which typically includes a custodian and registration service. The registration is just a computer record that says where the original is, which is usually with a solicitor.
  • Do we really need more regulation? I've written several wills (for family), or rather copied a will and changed the names etc, and to be fair they have been straight forward. Solicitors are fine if the estate is huge and/or complicated but my mother and my son have both died in the last year and their wills (which I wrote) have been to probate without problem. I think the main concern is that so many people put off writing a will and then die intestate.
  • edited 27 April 2012 at 4:11AM
    John_PierpointJohn_Pierpoint Forumite
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    edited 27 April 2012 at 4:11AM
    Pincher wrote: »
    You are presented with a bill for the Will, say £150.
    Along with it you are given a General Terms of Instruction, which sets out some usual responsibility and liabilities. It is sufficiently general and large for you to not read it properly and just sign the letter that acknowledge that you "received" it.

    20 years later, your estate is worth £1million pound, and you die.

    If the beneficiary is allowed to change Executor without going to court, I think we would all find somebody who does what they are told.

    http://www.oft.gov.uk/news-and-updates/press/2010/64-10

    Good point, however perhaps the testator included the solicitor as executor because he knew the family would squabble about the inheritance; it is amazing how some little misunderstanding can get escalated out of proportion.

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    IPKat licence
    ladyfox wrote: »
    Do we really need more regulation? I've written several wills (for family), or rather copied a will and changed the names etc, and to be fair they have been straight forward. Solicitors are fine if the estate is huge and/or complicated but my mother and my son have both died in the last year and their wills (which I wrote) have been to probate without problem. I think the main concern is that so many people put off writing a will and then die intestate.

    "Which?" used to publish detailed instructions on preparing a DIY will, but now has a vested interest in selling an on-line will writing service.

    I used "Which?" to create a DIY will for my mother, when I discovered that the local solicitor had put his name down as the executor about 20 years ago - I used a dot matrix printer and shrank the result with a photocopier onto one sheet of paper and then we got that signed and witnessed.

    8 years ago it did the job exactly as intended. I did need to buy a little legal advice because of ongoing legalities involved with my father's prior intestacy and the "STEP" lawyer involved remarked "Not quite how I would have phrased it, but it works".
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