Contractors remain at risk from cowboy will-writers

“Wholly unsuitable” wills written by the “incompetent, untrained and uninsured” remain a risk to contractors and other consumers following a decision not to regulate the practice, experts warn.

Despite them collecting two years’ worth of evidence showing dishonesty, incompetence and bad practice, the Legal Services Board says the government has rejected its recommendation that will-writing should be made subject to regulation.

The board had told both the government and the Lord Chancellor that its probe had uncovered “comprehensive evidence” that the market for such a critical service is "working contrary to the interests of consumers."

The LSB believes that the onus is now on both regulated and unregulated providers of will-writing services to improve standards and thereby earn back public confidence, given that it reportedly found one in five wills contain mistakes.

The Law Society, which submitted evidence to the board, says the government’s decision will be “deeply disappointing” to consumers who, when using some unregulated providers, have to put up with “incompetent, untrained and uninsured” writers.

The society’s chief executive Desmond Hudson said: “Thanks to the government’s decision, unregulated providers can carry on writing wholly unsuitable wills, leaving consumers without any recourse when things go wrong as a result.”

He recommended that individuals wanting to draw up a will should approach a solicitor, as they are “qualified” and bring “the comfort of an unrivalled regulatory and compensation system to put right any errors.”

A regulated and independent financial adviser to contractors, ContractorMoney, has acknowledged that some individuals may be tempted by “cheap DIY options” when it comes to selecting a will-writing service.    

But ContractorMoney’s founder Tony Harris warned: “These may prove far more costly in the long-run because your family will have to pay to fix any problems that you leave behind. Mistakes can also be extremely costly in terms of any tax liabilities too.

“So we urge contractors to consider the old adage of 'cheapest doesn't equal best' when it comes to will-writing. This is one area where we believe that saving money in the short-term by shopping for a will at the newsagents or worse still, at the supermarket certainly doesn't pay.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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