Benson Williams have been members of The Institute of Professional Willwriters since 1996.
The IPW is the only organisation representing the Will writing sector which requires all of its members to pass an entrance examination to guarantee their competence to give advice and to write Wills. We are compliant with The IPW Code of Practice and as such can guarantee that all of our clients will be dealt with professionally, ethically, and competently. The IPW Code of Practice was approved by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), [now the Trading Standards Institute (TSI)], under its Customer Codes Approval Scheme in April 2010. All work conducted by Benson Williams meets with the requirements of the TSI. If you would like a free copy of The IPW Code of Practice please contact us, telephone us on 0808 1789172 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Face to face consultations
As we mentioned in our home page, all of our clients are offered a face to face consultation with one of our representatives before making a Will, and also during the subsequent signing and execution of the Will.
There can be uncertainty over best practice when it comes to how your Will instructions should be taken, and how the Will signing should be supervised. Other firms have used post, email, technology such as Skype, and even the telephone to obtain the necessary information from their clients. Our stance is that everybody deserves face to face consultation before making a Will, and during the signing of the Will, and we would like you to consider the following points in consideration of this stance:
Did you know that most Wills which are rejected by the Probate Registry are rejected due to errors in the execution of the Will (the signing of your Will by you in the presence of two valid witnesses) and not due to errors in the draft of the Will itself.
Also the contesting of Wills is often down to a failure of the firm drafting the Will to interpret the client’s intentions correctly. Clearly the more remote the information gathering process is, the more likely it is that misunderstandings will arise.
Another area where Wills can fail is the client’s capacity (or lack of capacity) to actually make a Will (known as “testamentary capacity”). This can be more complex than you may think, and dates back to the case of Banks v Goodfellow in 1870. By conducting all of our interviews on a face to face basis we can personally ensure that our clients have the necessary capacity. If there is any doubt we always use the “golden rule” of getting medical approval before starting.
Another issue which can cause Wills to fail is third parties unduly influencing proceedings, or worse still coercing family members into making Wills. For this reason we do require that all of our face to face meetings are conducted without third parties present.
For all of the above reasons all of our clients are given a face to face meeting to discuss their situation and requirements. Any advice given during these face to face meetings is given free of charge and at no obligation.
Appointments are conducted in the comfort of our clients’ homes and at a time to suit our clients. If evening or weekend appointments are more convenient due to work or family commitments then we will work around our client’s needs. We are also happy to meet our clients by appointment at our office in Pelsall, Walsall if they prefer, but a recent inspection of our database showed that 97% of the Wills we have drafted have been done in the comfort of our clients own homes.
Once our clients have met with us and given us their instructions we conduct a second face to face meeting to read over the documents to them, and to supervise the signing of them. No Wills are posted back to clients unsigned leaving them to work out what they mean and how to execute them.
By doing things this way we ensure that all of the relevant (and vital) issues have been handled correctly, all of which mean that our clients are being looked after in the best possible way:
Risk of Wills being rejected by The Probate Registry due to poor or incorrect signing and execution (remember this is where most Wills are rejected) has been eliminated.
We have eliminated any risk of confusion or misinterpretation of our client’s wishes by meeting with them face to face.
We have ensured that our clients have the necessary capacity to make a Will, and that it is not going to be contested on this issue.
We have ensured that the client is not being unduly influenced or coerced by family members or third parties who are fraudulently involving themselves in the process of making the Will. Remember on this point we are particularly strict in not allowing third parties to be present in the room whilst interviews are being conducted.
All of the above ensures that when your Will is being drafted and executed there will be no unnecessary mistakes and, equally importantly, no scope for family members or other outsiders to challenge the Will on issues such as capacity, knowledge and approval, fraud, and undue influence from third parties.
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