You’ve no doubt noticed there are two types of services offering Will writing:
- A full-blown solicitor’s practice
- A Will writing service
In this blog I’ll explain the difference between Will writers and solicitors. Something I’m qualified to do because I used to be a solicitor and now I’m a Will writer. So what follows is my personal opinion, accompanied by suggestions of questions you might ask someone you’re considering using to write your Will.
I trained to be a solicitor and worked as such as a partner in a Kent law firm. When I decided to move on and set up on my own I decided to set up as a Will writer only, because there’s much less protocol and red tape involved.
The training that a solicitor undertakes to achieve qualification is quite different to the training that a Will writer might have had. It takes years to qualify as a solicitor.
It will shock you to learn that Will writing isn’t a regulated industry. As a result, the training undergone by the Will writer you’re considering using, could amount to nothing more than a weekend course on the subject. Or the person you’re thinking of using could be someone like me. Or even someone sitting somewhere between the two.
What’s the difference?
To be honest – it comes down to the price. Will writers tend to be cheaper than solicitors. You’ll pay a Will writer less because for several reasons. They usually work on their own or in smaller units. Thus, their overheads are lower than those of a solicitor working in a large firm with staff costs.
You’ll also pay more to see a solicitor because, in general, they’re more qualified than a Will writer. They’ll have more expertise in, for example, inheritance tax planning and setting up trusts etc. That expertise brings with it extra costs.
My advice is this: when you speak to a Will writer, find out a bit about their background. Good questions to ask are:
- How long have they been Will writing?
- What qualifications do they have?
- Are they a member of any professional bodies?
In my case, I’m a member of the Institute of Professional Will Writers.
Even if you go to a solicitor, it’s sensible to find out both when they qualified and to what level.
A newly-qualified solicitor may not have the same level of expertise as a solicitor with 20 years of experience. You also need to find out whether Will writing is their area of expertise.
For example, there are solicitors out there that draft Wills – but whose main work is conveyancing or family law.
I wouldn’t recommend going to see such a person. Your best option by far, is to see someone for whom Will writing is their main activity, so they’re used to doing it, day in, day out. Such a person will have both the level of expertise and the reassurance that you need.
Whoever you choose to draft your Wills, make sure you’re comfortable with them and that you’ve asked those questions. They won’t feel offended – they’ll understand your need to know those things.
Your Will is an important document to get drafted. It’s in your best interests to know that you’ve got the right person doing it for you.
If you’d like to find out if your current Wills need updating, I provide a complimentary review of Wills. Simple email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. I’ll need to see a copy of your existing Wills so we can have a 15-minute minute review to see if you need to change anything.