Home made wills during pandemic expected to lead to surge in disputes

Abbie Kingdon  05-11-2021

An organisation known as Farewill, which helps people prepare wills online, has reported a 267% increase in wills being written at home between 2019 and 2020, with the rise believed to have been fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, probate experts are warning that the increase in online will writing could lead to a surge in contested probate cases.

The warning comes after 26 online will writing services were analysed by Funeral Solution Expert (a research and consultancy firm). FSE found that consumers can often be mistaken as to whether their affairs are complex or simple and that companies themselves “offer very little liability for something going wrong”.

Simon Cox, co-founder of FES said: “There is no doubt that an online wills can be a good solution if affairs are genuinely simple". However, he went on to say that FES had discovered that 65% of consumers who rated their affairs as simple actually had affairs that should have been regarded as complex, and thus requiring professional assistance. 

Mr Cox added that the online will-writing sector is storing up huge problems for the future, as it is likely that there is an “every increasing bank of wills” that will be contested after the death of the testator.

However, if an online will is not drafted properly, meaning that beneficiaries could have a claim, they could find themselves in difficulty if they want to sue the online will provider.

Michael Culver, Chairman of Solicitors for the Elderly pointed out that whilst solicitors have to have professional indemnity insurance in order to practice, which covers claims running into millions of pounds, many of the online will writers were limiting their liability to the cost of drafting the will, which in most cases, is minimal. 

Lorraine Robinson, a solicitor who works for Farewill said: “qualification as a solicitor is not a guarantee of an individual solicitor or regulated firm’s depth of understanding of a specialist area of law". That is of course true, and there are plenty of examples of qualified solicitors making mistakes when drafting a will.

However, the important difference is that solicitors are regulated by the Law Society, so anyone who is dissatisfied with a solicitor can complain to them, and of course, solicitors are required to be insured against this kind of claim. 

At Samuels Solicitors, we have been preparing wills, trusts and powers of attorney for many decades, as well as helping clients deal with probate. Our lawyers are highly experienced, and have higher levels of qualification from the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners, so you know you are in safe hands. If you are tempted to make a will online, then talk to us first about how we can help. If you are in North Devon, we will come and see you at home, in your nursing home, or in hospital, if you can't get to our office. 

If you want to get a will drafted, then we can help. Contact one our of private client team who will be happy to discuss your wishes with you.

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