Who IS a Professional Will Writer?
It can be hard to tell who is a Professional Will Writer (which is why we check for you.) There are many “professional associations” which are nothing more than marketing groups disguised as professional bodies. This is not to say that anyone not on this list is, just a gentle warning that all is not always what it seems with “professional associations.”
Our professional Will Writers are normally drawn from several groups of regulated professional Will Writers:
The biggest professional body dedicated to training and regulating professional Will Writers.
A much smaller body but better know as it has an excellent PR machine!
A very large and international Society: it is not a regulator in any sense of the word, but many accountants, solicitors and Will Writers active in the wider Estate Planning field will be members. Members are not regulated in the traditional sense, but membership is certainly a good sign.
A Law Commission survey noted that solicitors were not always well placed to write Wills, and conduct sound Legal Planning. General Practice means dealing with many and varied topics, and there is no requirement for ongoing training in Will Writing and Legal Planning. Indeed,many solicitors have never had any training at all on Will Writing, though one assumes they would never do so! In effect, members self certify that they have spent the necessary time to keep up to date in the fast-changing field of Wills, Powers of Attorney and general Legal Planning. Some don’t realise it IS ever changing. The Law Society in response has introduced their Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme. So if you use a solicitor, you should look out for an individual who has the TEP qualification (is a full member of the Society of Tax and Estate Planners) or is accredited under the Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme.
The biggest issue with solicitors is that they try to get themselves appointed as executors or as joint executors “to help the family.” This is a sneaky marketing maneuver to put the solicitor in charge when you die. Joint executorship is worse and more expensive tha just letting the solicitor get on with it: they will charge for the extra time spent dealing with the family executor and checking everything they do. This is necessary for the solicitor, as their reputation is at risk if it goes wrong.
There are of course cases where it is right to have professional executors, but you should compare their current charges (at least as a guideline) and any extras they charge before agreeing. Some charge a percentage “responsibility allowance” which in essence means that they charge nearly 1000 times as much to deal with a bank account with £10,000 in it than one with £10. Both take the same amount of work.
If you are looking for professional executors, we recommend that you check out The Probate Department Ltd: it is a sister company so you should look at others too before choosing.