A new report from the Legal Services Board shows that 20% of all wills could be faulty.

The survey of 100 people who needed a will found that 20 contained basic errors and a small percentage were so badly written that they “could not be executed”.

The Legal Services Board said: “We found consistent patterns of sloppiness, simple errors and poor communication. This often resulted in an unacceptable service for customers. Too often consumers were subjected to unfair sales practices.”

The report also called for the will-writing industry to be more heavily regulated to reduce the number of mistakes in the future.

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Importance of making a will correctly

The importance of correctly making your will should never be under estimated, mistakes could lead to your estate not being distributed as per your wishes and in some cases higher Inheritance Tax bills.

Of course mistakes in a will generally only come to light when it is too late to do anything about it, often leading to protracted and costly legal battles.

Unregulated will-writers

There are three ways to make a will; taking the DIY approach, using a will-writer or using a solicitor.

Financial experts point out that taking the DIY approach can lead to mistakes being made, which have to be sorted out posthumously, often at great cost. Furthermore using a will-writer can also cause problems, particularly as they are currently unregulated.

The Citizens Advice bureau has previously warned about the sharp practices of some will writers, however under new plans will-writing would become a “reserved activity” meaning that will-writers would have to register under a professional body.

Paul Sharpe, chairman of the Institute for Professional Willwriters commented: “Making a Will is a vital act that too many people never get around to doing. It is scandalous that so many of those that do run the risk of being duped by high pressure sales tactics, inappropriate advice or incorrect documents. We are grateful to the Legal Services Board for this report which is a significant step towards making a will a much less risky process.”

Consequences of not making a will

A recent report by Standard Life found that 60% of us don’t have a valid will in place, meaning that assets will be passed on according to the laws on intestacy rather than the wishes of the deceased.

Furthermore valuable tax planning opportunities could be lost if a will is not in place.

The main reason behind the lack of wills seems to be consumer apathy and also having to face up to one’s own demise, something which is never pleasant.

Experts point out that regulating the will-writing industry will not solve the fundamental problem of people not making wills, however for those that do it should ensure an increase in quality and fewer mistakes.