September 2023

The importance of specialist advice when drafting your will

Nicola Dudley Partner - Private Wealth & Tax

As it stands, anyone can legally write a will and, although many are drafted by lawyers who are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, will-writing itself is not a regulated service.

This means that anyone, whether qualified or not, can sell their will-writing services to you.

Despite 98% of people surveyed by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) believing it should be regulated, there remain no plans to address this.

Sadly, this opens up the opportunity for dishonesty and it is all too easy to fall victim to rogue will writers – particularly for the elderly, vulnerable or those with capacity issues.

Without regulation, older and vulnerable people risk being emotionally and financially impacted by unregulated will writers, who lack the necessary legal training, qualifications or specialist expertise to ensure that their wishes are honoured in the way they want.

More often than not, they don’t have the specialist expertise to work with these vulnerable people who are most at risk of financial abuse and undue influence.

They also lack the knowledge and expertise to deal with complex cases such as wills involving mixed or blended families and second marriages involving stepchildren from one or both partners, for example.

Professional will writers will have a high level of indemnity insurance in place to protect against negligence in the event that a will isn’t completed correctly or misleading advice has been given, however, many unregulated firms will not have this in place, opening you up to potential risk.

Working with an unregulated will writer can inadvertently lead you to make decisions as part of your will that could have irreversible and devastating consequences for your family or loved ones. Indeed, in some cases, we’ve seen this result in the loss of thousands of pounds worth of inheritance, not to mention acute emotional distress.

That is why it is so important, to always seek the advice of a regulated specialist such as an SFE accredited solicitor, when making a will, as they will ensure that your legal needs are protected.

You will also find that regulated specialists in will writing will have the soft skills training and expertise necessary to work with older and vulnerable clients and can support them in considering the impact of their actions, and verifying that what they want to do is, in actual fact, what they intend.

This can include sensitive considerations such as Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders and Lasting Powers of Attorneys (LPAs).

Television soaps have done much to raise awareness of these issues in recent years, such as Emmerdale’s plot around Faith Dingle who was terminally ill.

With it becoming clear she won’t be able to make decisions for herself and wanting certainty that her dying wishes will be carried out, Faith sought the advice of the local village lawyer, Ethan. Armed with the knowledge that she doesn’t want to be resuscitated should the situation arise, she approached her son, Cain to inform him of her plans to hand over control to him by appointing him as her Attorney.

Having conversations about DNR orders and LPAs with loved ones is incredibly important. Without making your wishes clear and legally binding, you run the risk of medical professionals making the call for you.

With research from SFE revealing that two-thirds (70%) of medical practitioners have seen an increased number of DNR orders issued since the start of the pandemic, it is vital that you make your wishes on the matter known to your loved ones.

It goes without saying that nobody wants to think about what might happen when we die, but doing so and speaking to loved ones about it, as well as engaging the services of a qualified and regulated will writer, could pay dividends for your family in the future.

Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash


Jurit LLP’s private wealth & tax team specialises in will writing (including Shar’ia Wills), LPAs and other succession considerations such as personal tax planning. For help and support, get in touch.

Nicola Dudley Partner - Private Wealth & Tax +44 (0) 20 7846 2370

Jo Summers Partner - Private Wealth & Tax +44 (0) 20 7846 2370
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Please note this paper is intended to provide general information and knowledge about legal developments and topics which may be of interest to readers. It is not a comprehensive analysis of law nor does it provide specific legal advice. Advice on the specific circumstances of a matter should be sought.