Local Will Writer puts BBC Panorama in perspective


A Dorset based will writer claims Monday’s Panorama programme supported what he has always said: that a will is one of the most important documents a person will ever write and should be carried out by a qualified, person belonging to a regulated body.


Matt Walkden from MW Legal Services and the major online will writing website www.Wills.org.uk is a member of the Society of Will Writers (SWW), the country’s leading professional body for the will writing industry and has £2.5million of Professional Indemnity Insurance.


Matt said that the programme’s focus on problems experienced by a small handful of people who had asked will writers to handle their probate masked the real issues people should be addressing.


“As with most documentaries of this type, the programme sought to suggest there is a major problem within the will writing industry by show-casing half a dozen cases – actually concerning probate administration rather than will writing – only one of which was proven to be a fraudulent case.


“The reality is that the SWW alone has 2000 members who write some 200,000 wills a year with hardly a problem. Our insurers have handled just 11 cases in the past 16 years.


“We work in an unregulated market not through choice but because successive governments have deemed it unnecessary to bring in regulation. However, the SWW would support regulation. The SWW has been on the Scottish consultation panel since 2006 and it supports the Scottish Government in its proposed regulatory plans.


“The SWW is also supporting and working with the Legal Services Board in England to regulate or at least licence will writers and is pressing for tighter regulation of probate and client funds.


“The simple truth though is that no amount of legislation will eliminate fraudulent behaviour in any industry. One of the will writers featured in the programme last night was, as the Panorama reported admitted, a struck-off solicitor. The legal industry is clearly not immune then to the type of issue highlighted by the programme but which seemed to suggest lay at the door of will writers.


“What the programme should have highlighted was that people need to read and understand the terms and conditions of the literature they are signing and if they don’t understand, don’t sign until they are fully satisfied. They should ask the person dealing with them about their experience, qualifications, insurance cover and membership of a professional organisation.


“In any industry there will always be the occasional bad apple but this shouldn’t cloud the key issue which, as the programme itself highlighted at the opening, is that a will is a vitally important document which is best handled by a professional whose skills are dedicated to will writing.”


Matt can be contacted through his own website www.Mattwalk.com

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