A BBC Panorama documentary has highlighted the issues associated with private ‘will writing’ firms, warning consumers of the unregulated and unethical practices undertaken by some private companies, who claim to be experts in this field.

The documentary, which aired on BBC One on the 9th August 2010, reported on instances in which ‘will writing’ firms were charging hidden fees and percentage based costs, misplacing people’s wills and even failing to inform and deliver the monies and assets left to beneficiaries.

Despite companies presenting themselves as specialists in the drafting of wills, the fact is that many of these companies are neither regulated nor insured and as such, consumers are not as well protected as they would be if they went to a solicitor to oversee this process. Solicitors firms in England & Wales are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, fully insured and clients are also protected by a profession wide indemnity scheme.

Phil Taylor, Partner and Head of the Wills, Trusts and Probate Department at Farleys Solicitors LLP commented:

“It is unfortunate that rogue practitioners and companies have been able to conduct such atrocious practices.  It is still estimated that two out of three adults in the UK currently don’t have a Will and that 300,000 people die without a will every year.  In these circumstances their assets may end up benefiting people the deceased may not have intended or didn’t even know which can cause distress and difficulty for loved ones at what is already a very traumatic time.  Companies such as those featured in the Panorama programme should not deter individuals wanting to make a will.

“Ensuring that your hard earned savings and assets are distributed amongst your loved ones as you wish should not be a difficult or costly process, provided you deal with an experienced solicitor.

“Seeking advice from a Solicitor can, in addition, protect your estate against inheritance tax, residential care fees and other liabilities.  For peace of mind, we would always advise that legal advice from a wills and probate solicitor is sought”.

Farleys Solicitors are a leading North West based law firm and provide a wide range of legal services for both private clients and businesses. To speak to a specialist Wills, trusts and probate solicitor about an existing will or drafting a will, contact Farleys on 0854 050 1958.