Government to crack down on unscrupulous will writing firms

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is taking action against deceitful will writing firms, launching an inquiry to safeguard the public. The probe focuses on unregulated providers offering will writing and pre-paid probate plans. Initial findings highlight concerns like misleading ads, opaque costs, and unsuitable products. The CMA's scrutiny underscores the necessity of consulting qualified solicitors for wills.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation to protect the public from unscrupulous will writing firms. The CMA is keen to hear about people’s experiences when buying will writing services and pre-paid probate plans, particularly from unregulated providers. Initial research by the CMA has identified potential areas of concern including misleading advertising, unfair contract terms, pressure selling, lack of transparency on costs, and the suitability of products being sold. The concerns raised by the CMA highlight the need for people to consult a fully qualified solicitor when drawing up a will. 

A recent survey carried out by Will Aid, the organisation that encourages people to leave some of their estate to charity, found that 62% of people prefer to use the services of a solicitor when making their will. This compared with only 12% who used an unregulated will writer, 9% who made a homemade will and 17% who used DIY kits or banks and other services. Will Aid says many people are unaware that will writers can practise without having proper training, regulation or insurance. A spokesman said: “Drawing up a will is a vital financial planning step but the lure of the cheaper alternatives to solicitors can mean the document is not properly written or legally binding. While an off-the-shelf will might seem attractive to those who are watching the pennies, it could be money wasted rather than saved. It is evident that the public prefer to use a solicitor to write their will, wherever possible. They are aware that with a solicitor you can be assured of a valid will and if anything does go wrong there is proper insurance and redress. This may not be the case with an unregulated provider and certainly isn't the case if you write your own will.”
The Law Society has also urged people to make a will and ensure that they only use a fully qualified solicitor. A spokesman said: “A badly drafted will can cause more problems than no will at all, so the Law Society advises against using unregulated will writers. All solicitors are subject to strict regulation to ensure that they deliver the best service to their clients, unlike unregulated will writers. Solicitors are unparalleled in the will writing market as only they have the breadth of training to consider wider implications and complex issues, including tax and family law.” 

CMA Chief Executive Sarah Cardell said: “These may not be frequent purchases, but they are life changing. That’s why it’s so important that we investigate so that people can select the right legal service for them with confidence. It’s essential that firms get the basics right, including complying with general consumer law which applies to all traders. Customers must get a fair deal.” The CMA will provide an update on its investigation later in the year.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of Wills and Probate on 020 8290 0333 or email

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