The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published Ethics Guidance for the drafting and preparation of Wills.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published Ethics Guidance for the drafting and preparation of Wills.

Following the recently published research commissioned by the SRA, the Legal Services Board, the Legal Services Consumer Panel and the OFT into the consumer experience of will writing services in which a variety of providers including Solictors and Professional Will Writers were assessed.  Some 9 of the 41 Wills drafted by solicitors were failed in terms of the quality of the Will.

Wills that were assessed as failed, did so for one or more specific reasons, including:

  • Inadequacy – where the content of the will does not account for an estate fully, fails to make adequate provision or neglects to take certain outcomes in to consideration. It also includes wills which are legally invalid;
  • Requirements – where the client’s requests have not been met (as specified in the testator questionnaire) through omission or conflicting specification;
  • Legality – where the actions specified in the will are potentially illegal;
  • Inconsistency – where the language, logic and/or content of the will is contradictory;
  • Detail – where items, people and requests are described in insufficient detail; and
  • Presentation – where the language and format of the document is lacking.

The SRA says the most relevant Principles in this situation are that solicitors must

  • act in the best interests of each client;
  • provide a proper standard of service to their clients;
  • behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in them and in the provision of legal services.

One area that came in for particular criticism was that of solicitors appointing themselves or members of their firm as executors in a Will.  Such appointments should only be made after advice and explanation had been given as to who can act as executors and in exceptional circumstances.

You can read the full text of the SRA Ethics Guidance here.

Simply Wills does not include itself as an Executor or Trustee in our clients’ Wills. Where family circumstances dictate the need for a professional Executor or Trustee we will recommend trusted organisations who will always renounce their appointment if family circumstances change.

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