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A Will is something that many of us would rather not think about. Equally, we all acknowledge that it is an extremely significant document to prepare in ensuring that our assets and estate are administered and distributed how we wish.
It may be a surprise to many to learn that the preparation and drafting of a Will is not necessarily something that needs to be prepared by a solicitor. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is open to debate. Whilst the preparation of a Will by someone who is not a solicitor may appear to be a viable option it also carries disadvantages. Aside from the technical aspects of giving advice the individual could be left without redress where the Will is not drafted as intended. In addition, an unregulated provider for Wills may be uninsured.
As a result of this situation proposals have been put forward to specify the preparation of Wills as a “reserved legal activity” which would mean that only specific professions, including solicitors, can act in the preparation of these documents. This recommendation had been supported by a number of professional bodies, including the Law Society and the Society for Trust and Estate Practitioners. The Lord Chancellor has rejected this recommendation on the basis that it may harm consumers.
It is a disappointing decision. A Will is one of the most important legal documents most of us will ever sign. A properly drawn Will needs to take into account not only succession law but also family, property, trust and tax law. The consequences of a badly drawn Will can be disastrous and, given that problems tend only to come to light after death, can be difficult and expensive to put right.
The glimmer of light is that it is not a final decision; the Lord Chancellor recommended alternatives to regulation be tried first, such as codes of conduct and voluntary regulation. Will this work? The cynics amongst us would look at recent examples of self regulation (the press and the financial services industry).
In the meantime then, if you are considering instructing non regulated Will-Writers you should check the following:
1. Check the status of the firm and whether they subscribe to some form of self-regulation;
2. See whether they have indemnity insurance;
3. Check the small print – is liability for negligence excluded;
4. Check the person writing the Will is qualified;
5. Be clear about what the fees will be right from the outset and obtain quotes in writing; and
6. Ask about complaints handling procedures.
Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) were introduced in England on 6 April 2001 and have many advantages, including limiting the personal liability of their members while being taxed in the same way as traditional partnerships.
When buying or selling a flat you may sometimes come across the conundrum of the flat having a “short lease”. But what is this and what are the implications for dealing with a flat like this and obtaining funding to purchase it?
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