Synopsis: The Solicitors Regulation Authority has published new guidance on the drafting of wills.
Date posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published new guidance on the drafting of wills. The guidance reflects the results of a research project carried out in 2011 which was jointly funded by the SRA, the Legal Services Board, the Legal Services Consumer Panel and the Office of Fair Trading.
Part of the said research involved a ‘mystery shopper’ exercise in which 101 Wills bought by consumers were examined by a panel of experts. Of these, 41 had been drafted by solicitors – 9 of which the panel assessed to be unsatisfactory – approximately the same proportion of those which were unsatisfactory were written by lay will writers. The failings were based on a combination of incompleteness, inconsistency, invalidity, omission and some wills even specified illegal actions.
While recommendation was made by Legal Services Board to regulate will writing – at present the Government has decided not to do so. With this in mind the new guidance aims to remind solicitors of their professional duties and outline rules of best practice – firms practicing in this area should have proper systems in place and ensure the client has testamentary capacity. In addition, steps should be taken to avoid the risk of fraud and the client’s assets and family members should be known.
The Law Society and Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners have published codes of practice to encourage better quality will writing.
Professionals practicing in this area ought to ensure that the professional code of conduct is met to avoid disappointing their clients who should be equally confident that their will achieves the desired outcome especially because a ‘home-made’ will can often fail to do so.
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