You will have heard this before, don’t believe everything you read in the papers, and by extension, don’t believe everything you hear over the telephone. Check what you have been told with other, reliable, sources.
I have heard reports of people being telephoned and given inaccurate “advice” about Wills, for example, that if your Will is over three (or any number of) years old, that it is invalid and will not be effective. That is not correct. Age does not invalidate a Will, it may be out of date, but that is a different thing.

If someone calls you to offer to write your Will, please ask for their name and their company, and make a note of it. If you do not hear the name properly, ask for the spelling. A genuine caller will give you time to write it down, and will be pleased to advertise their credentials.
Will writing in itself, is not yet a regulated activity, and that is why will writers can “cold call” you. Anybody can earn money by writing Wills for clients. Anybody can telephone you and suggest to you that your Will is somehow defective or out of date. Anybody can take payment from you and frighten you into seeking their services rather than those of a qualified professional. And they do not have to know anything about the law.

Many Wills are simple, they are all unique. Wills are all best written with knowledge of the background and an understanding of the problems which can lie in the family dynamics or in the finances. Good legal advice will help.

It should be well known that solicitors write Wills as part of their legal services. Some are specialists in this field, some have informal contacts with accountants and with Independent Financial Advisers, whom they trust, who can assist with the wider issues.

Remember, solicitors have passed exams and keep up their training each year. We take out insurance in order to be able to pay for mistakes that we (being human) might make. We are supervised by bodies that can take action if the service is bad, can award compensation if the service causes loss and can prevent us from operating if we are not up to the mark.

So, if you are at all concerned about the advice someone has given you on the telephone about Wills, telephone, or visit, a solicitor. Don’t be afraid to do so, we cannot charge you without your agreement. Take comfort that many solicitors shop locally and none that I know has ever bitten anyone.

I have given you some free advice already. Here is more: if you marry without referring to your intended marriage in your Will (or later codicil), then your Will is automatically revoked. But, don’t believe me – check!

Ann Astbury
August 2011