Does your Will work?
Do you have a Will? If not, why not? If so – are you sure it works to your advantage?
A recent report by STEP (Society for Trusts and Estate Practitioners) shed light on how many of its members have come across Wills which have been badly or wrongly drafted and have ended up costing clients thousands of pounds.
The report published last week and entitled ‘Wills & Trusts: Buyer Beware’ highlighted the importance of specialist qualifications and expertise in the Wills and Estate planning sector. It sets out how, unfortunately, some members of the public view unregulated will-writing companies as a cheaper alternative to solicitors. Yet the reality is, despite the guise of a free or discounted Will, many of these companies either include hidden charges or unnecessary costly Trusts or even appoint themselves as Executors, thereby charging staggering amounts for estate administration. Sometimes these Wills include Trusts where the client thinks they will preserve their assets and not have to pay care fees but are not informed about deliberate deprivation of assets. Alternatively, some people have been advised to gift assets into Trusts triggering lifetime Inheritance Tax charges which would not have been payable if the estate had been left intact.
As a STEP member who contributed to the survey for this report, I was not surprised by the findings. Unfortunately, this area is not regulated and not everyone who professes knowledge possesses it.
Do your research and ensure your Will works for you and your family. Seek advice from a regulated individual: there are many benchmarks out there notably TEP (Trust and Estates Practitioner) status or the Law Society Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme Accreditation (WIQS). All members of STEP are bound to the code for will-writing which sets a standard of transparency, service and competence and WIQS accreditation requires its members to comply with its Protocol, thereby ensuring capability.
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