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Aaron & Partners warn against will writers ahead of TV expose

9th August, 2010

LEADING Chester-based solicitors, Aaron & Partners LLP, have warned of the dangers of unqualified will writers ahead of a BBC documentary into the industry, due to be shown tonight. (Monday, August 9)

Clive Pointon, head of the wills, trusts and tax team at Aaron & Partners LLP, headquartered at Grosvenor Court, Foregate Street, claims choosing an uninsured will-writing service instead of trained solicitors can be a recipe for disaster and cause heartache for relatives. He joined in calls for the industry to be regulated by law ahead of tonight’s Panorama investigation.

Mr Pointon said: “Anyone can set up a will-writing business tomorrow without any training, expertise or insurance as there is no regulation. These people are not solicitors. They have no assets as well as no insurance so if something goes wrong – as it often does without the relevant know-how – and the business goes under there is no means of redress.

“Frequently you don’t find out there is a problem with a will until after the person has died. From that point it can take a lot of time and money to put right, at what is already an extremely difficult time for any family. It’s shocking that a will writer can mess it up and yet essentially be unaccountable. Relatives are left absolutely helpless.”

Aaron & Partners – Chester’s largest law firm with around 100 staff – is warning that the lack of regulation in the industry has enabled many will writers to adopt high-pressure sales techniques, offering wills for a low or discounted fee and then recommending themselves to be appointed as executors. Terms and conditions can be poorly worded and difficult to understand.
Mr Pointon, Chester’s only court-approved deputy at the Office of the Public Guardian, added: “A lot of people are tempted by the low initial fees of £50-£80 they see advertised by will-writing services, but there can be lots of hidden add-ons such as storage charges, where customers are charged £20 a year for the will to be stored. This is one of their favourite tricks.

“If a will-writing services goes out of business, there is little that can be done. Sometimes the will cannot be found, even where charges have been made for storing it. If there are mistakes that involve children, putting things right can involve a court order which can take many months and cost anything up to £5,000.”

Solicitors are required to set out in writing the basis of their charges, and in many cases wills are undertaken for a fixed fee with free storage of wills and other documents.

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