More than 1,000 files containing wills and other confidential information were recently found dumped on the pavement outside a will-writing company in Doncaster, the Society of Will Writers (SWW) revealed this week.
The files were left by staff at another will-writing company, Gainsborough-based Minster Legal Services (MLS), which ceased trading in March .
SWW has so far succeeded in returning 300 of the documents to clients.
SWW director general Brian McMillan said the society has since discovered that MLS had a national network of consultants targeting local charity groups, particularly the elderly, and clients had paid thousands of pounds for wills and trusts that they have never received.
He said the case highlighted the need for will-writers and will-writing companies to be licensed. Currently will-writers need not be licensed or regulated to draft or store your Will. You will have little recourse if they make errors, close down or lose your documents.
In addition many of the wills “packages” sold costing thousands of pounds are not required and often it is more cost effective to instruct solicitors to deal with the matter – something consumers put under pressure by salesman acting for the will writers fail to point out.
This is not the only example of problems with Will Writers – ‘Four or five years ago, we had to rescue other files that had been abandoned in a barn in Somerset. People pay good money in the belief they are going to receive a valid will. Operators like this taint us all,’ said Brian McMillian, director general of the SWW.
Last month, the Legal Services Board announced that it would launch a formal investigation into whether will-writing should be regulated, following a recommendation by the Legal Services Consumer Panel.
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