Warning issued over dangers of low-cost online wills

The Society of Trust and Estate Planners (STEP) has warned people looking to get their affairs in order about the danger of low-cost online wills.

The professional body of practitioners has urged people to choose their providers carefully, as will writing is not regulated in England and Wales.

STEP said that this means there are many unqualified and unregulated “cowboy” will writers and estate planners offering low cost online services.

The body is campaigning so that both those who write wills and those who administer estates professionally should be properly qualified to ensure minimum standards of competence and behaviour, and to give the public protection in the form of professional indemnity insurance and business continuity arrangements.

Members of STEP abide by its “will code” when they write wills, which was created by the group in 2014 and applies to all its members in England and Wales who prepare wills.

“Low cost online wills might make sense to those with straightforward needs and modest estates, but we’re urging people to take into consideration the consequences of using unqualified or unregulated practitioners,” said head of professional standards at STEP, Sarah Manuel.

“Where cases involve large or complex estates, divorce or remarriage, property abroad or a business, we’d urge people to seek an experienced professional to make sure wills are drawn up properly and charges are clearly explained from the outset.

“This is especially important where there are vulnerable people who require special support that offers careful planning, and to ensure assets don’t pass to the wrong people.”

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