Will-writers to be mystery shopped

last will and testament quality


From The Solicitors Journal 09/12/10:

Mystery shoppers will test the service provided by will-writers early next year [this year, now], as part of a Legal Services Board project.

Research agency IFF Research has been commissioned by the LSB, the Legal Services Consumer Panel and the Office of Fair Trading to recruit individuals to report back on their experience of getting a will, which will then be assessed by a panel of solicitors and will-writers.

IFF will select 100 consumers looking to obtain a will. Of these, 40 will use a solicitor, 40 will use a will-writer, and 20 will write their own will using an online provider or paper-based DIY will.

The names of the firms producing the wills, and the names of those obtaining the wills, will remain anonymous. A pilot study is scheduled to take place in January, with the full study taking place in February and March.

The LSB is examining whether to make will-writing a reserved legal activity.

I’ve always steered as far clear of private client work as possible; it just never held my interest if I’m honest.

But I’m certainly curious to know how this particular segment of the private client market is regarded – particularly by solicitors. I don’t know, but I suspect that it’s a very similar situation to licenced conveyancers, i.e. that solicitors generally regard these market-stealing upstarts with a certain amount of contempt and like nothing better than to sneer at their rivals’ ineptitude.

Given the volume of do-it-yourself options out there, I’m surprised there’s sufficient breadth in the market for this sub-division to have developed and sustained itself. 

Far be it for me to cast aspersions on the quality of work being done by will-writers out there who aren’t solicitors, but I guess quality assurance measures have got to be a good thing for clients.

Which is what matters most, right?


  1. Buying a will scares me a bit. As far as I can tell the only real test for if a will is any good or not is if your beneficiaries sue the bottom out of your executor after you're dead and it seems very hard to prepare for that.

  2. Very true! I suppose you could always stage a mock death (Den Watts style) and let the executors pretend to administer your estate, and then turn up years later, emerging out of the shadows to your nearest and dearest and mutter, "ello princess"!

    ... or maybe not! ;-)

  3. I don't think these will-writers should be allowed... I remember some will-writers accosting people on my local high street many months ago now telling them they had to have a will and being very forceful with their sales pitch. I stood and watched them for a bit and they were targeting the elderly (nothing surpising about that) but they are vulnerable people and should be protected from these vultures as they can include things in your will like a donation to x charity without your specific knowledge only for a beneficiary to find out later knowing full well you didn't give a crap about x. One poor woman they targeted was this elderly indian lady who held her ground most admirably. As even when she told them she had a will they continued to pester her about getting one prepared by them. They bothered her for a good ten minutes. I went to ask for my "uncle" just to see what they would say but they weren't as "helpful" to me as they were to the old folks... there was something that wasn't quite right about them. If there are to be will-writers then they need to be regulated.

  4. AW - that's very interesting and truly awful. I'd not encountered these will-writers before but based on what you've said, that sounds like a good thing!


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