UK: Thousand Ripped Off By Unregulated Will Writers - Ensure You're Not One Of Them

Last Updated: 23 August 2011
Article by Claire Carberry

Thousands of people are being ripped off by companies providing unregulated services such as will writing, a report issued last month highlighted. The report, produced by the Legal Ombudsman, who have formal powers to resolve complaints about lawyers, recommended that the provision of Will-writing services should be regulated.

In the report, Chief Ombudsman for England and Wales Adam Sampson said the most complaints he saw concerned residential conveyancing, employment advice, family law and wills.

"The service which crops up a lot is will writing. It's a service carried out often by will-writing firms who aren't regulated," said Mr Sampson.

"Because of this, customers are left with little means of redress when things go wrong."

Consumer organisations such as Which? said that often legal services offered via the internet had posed serious dangers for consumers. Many unregulated providers are not insured, and do not provide help for their clients when things go wrong. Individual cases brought to light from Legal Ombudsman research have highlighted consumers struggles to get copies of their will, make further queries concerning the work done, or receive any compensation when a will writing company fails.

Case Studies

The Law Society and the Legal Services Consumer Panel have issued information which sets out some case studies on unregulated will writers, with two examples cases included below. For more case studies, please visit

Mrs P alleges that a will writing company prepared a will for her aunt that included a gift of £5,000 to itself, named itself as Executor and tried forcefully to demand Power of Attorney from other family executors. The company falsely claimed that it was regulated by The Law Society. On contacting the will writing company's trade association the association offered to administer the estate itself. Mrs P alleges that the estate was mismanaged including double counting of a funeral bill in the accounts and undervaluation of the estate by £130,000 in avoid to avoid paying inheritance tax – HMRC is investigating this.

Mr B worked as manager of a team in a local council in London that dealt with the financial and legal affairs of persons who had dementia and mental health problems. He regularly encountered wills that had been drawn up by unregulated willwriters (when the testator did not have dementia) that were inappropriate and included technical mistakes, for example the will was not properly signed or witnessed. In a number of cases the trouble and expense of applying to the Court of Protection in order to make a statutory will was required to correct the errors.

Top tips for making a will

DMH Stallard Wills team have put together a three point plan to make sure you make the right decisions to ensure your estate is distributed according to your wishes.

1 Reason to choose a qualified solicitor

There are two sorts of providers in the wills market place – solicitors and Will writers. DMH Stallard Solicitors, as other solicitors, are regulated, whereas Will writers are provided with the Will Writers Code or Practice, which provides guidance only.

As described above, if you have issues with the service you receive, but have chosen a solicitor, you can refer matters to the Legal Ombudsman. Put simply, making a legally valid Will is the only effective way to ensure that you protect those that you care about, and potentially saves your loved ones the time, stress and additional expense of trying to sort out your affairs.

2 Good to be true?

Be aware that low cost Wills and prices quoted for a basic will may not always be the bargain that they first seem.

It is most likely that the offer will be too good to be true, and there will be hidden costs, or a incomplete or poorly drafted will. Some will writers make money from charging their clients annual storage fees and down payments towards probate costs, unlike our Wills team. Cases highlighted by the Legal Ombudsman focus on how mistakes made by will writers, including a will which wasn't signed by a testator although witnessed, meant that the individuals estate was intestate. A will should be tailored to your individual situation, taking into account many different factors, in order to get the most benefit from your estate.

3 for 2?

Make sure that you find out about the related services your solicitor can provide for you. Other services, such as creating a trust, may save you from paying unnecessary taxes and charges, depending on your situation.

There have been stories of wealthy individuals who have had a simple will drawn up by will writers, never discussing trusts and tax issues. If they had instructed a solicitor, it would be likely that inheritance tax payments could have been reduced with the right planning and advice. Estate planning requires both expert legal skills and a close knowledge of your family and business arrangements. Our team call upon their expertise in areas such as Will drafting, varying an inheritance, Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs), trust creation/administration, and inheritance tax and capital gains tax mitigation, according to your individual situation. For this reason, we take the time to get to know you, to understand the issues that matter and to work closely with you in planning for your family's futures.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions