June 24, 2024

Why Choosing a Solicitor Over a Will Writer Ensures Your Will is Watertight

This post was written by: Emma Wallace

This article is based on an article written by STEP: Wills and Trusts | STEP

Estate planning is an essential aspect of managing one’s legacy and ensuring the well-being of loved ones after passing. The primary instruments in this process, Wills and Trusts, are meant to provide peace of mind by clearly outlining the distribution of assets. However, the rise of unqualified advisors in the estate planning sector is becoming a problem and sometimes leading to severe financial and emotional repercussions for grieving families.

The Growing Concern

The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) has long been aware of the dangers posed by unqualified advisors. These individuals and firms, lacking the necessary specialist skills and knowledge, are unregulated and can, at times, lead to them taking advantage of their clients. The fallout from their inadequate advice can be devastating, with families facing unexpected legal fees and tax bills due to poorly crafted Wills.

Alarming Statistics

A recent survey conducted by STEP among its UK members in May 2023 reveals the extent of the problem. The findings are alarming:

  • 79% of respondents reported encountering Wills with errors.
  • Over half (54%) expressed concerns about rogue firms making false claims that lead to increased tax liabilities.
  • 63% of respondents had seen cases where a will writing company quoted an initial fee but then charged additional, hidden costs.
  • 54% of those surveyed came across firms making false claims about the benefits of the wills they were selling.

The data indicates a widespread issue, where clients can be misled and can end up with documents that do not serve their intended purpose. One particularly troubling aspect is the misrepresentation of Trusts as a means to avoid care home fees. Advisors have wrongly told clients that transferring their home and assets into a trust or gifting them during their lifetime would protect these assets from being assessed for care home costs. This advice is not only incorrect but also constitutes a deliberate deprivation of assets, which can have serious legal implications.

Real-World Impact

The consequences of such poor advice can be devastating. Families, already dealing with the emotional toll of losing a loved one, find themselves facing financial chaos. Substantial portions of estates are unnecessarily spent on legal fees or taxes, diminishing the intended inheritance. Furthermore, the false sense of security provided by unqualified advisors means that families might discover too late that their assets are not protected as they believed.

The Call for Qualified Advice

Given these findings, the importance of seeking qualified, competent advice for estate planning cannot be overstated. Clients must ensure that their advisors possess the necessary expertise and credentials. Qualified solicitors and STEP members, for instance, are subject to rigorous training and adherence to professional standards, offering a level of assurance that the advice given will be sound and, in the clients’, best interests.


Estate planning is too critical a task to leave in the hands of unqualified advisors. The repercussions of bad advice can last for generations, affecting not only the financial stability of families but also their emotional well-being. It is highly advisable for individuals to seek out qualified professionals who can provide reliable guidance and ensure that their estate plans fulfil their intended purpose. By doing so, they can truly achieve peace of mind and protect their legacy for their loved ones.

Please get in touch if you need by contacting our Private Client Solicitor, Lara Thomas at lthomas@astonbond.co.uk or our Private Client Paralegal, Emma Wallace at ewallace@astonbond.co.uk.