Duty of Care Owed by Solicitors & Other Will Writers

The two leading cases in the field of negligent Will preparation (Ross v Caunters and White v Jones) deal with the liability of qualified solicitors. However, Wills are now commonly prepared by banks, financial advisors, accountants and, increasingly, by unqualified “Will writers”, whose cut price offers can be found on the internet or in the small ads of the local paper.

Although the leading cases did not examine the position of these other providers, it is generally accepted that the same principles apply to anyone who prepares a Will, whether they are a qualified solicitor or not.

The point was considered in the case of Esterhuizen v Allied Dunbar. The Judge specifically agreed that the White v Jones decision was not confined to solicitors and that similar responsibilities were owed by non-solicitors, in this case the finance and insurance company, Allied Dunbar.

So, if you encounter a Will that has been negligently prepared by a Will writer, bank, accountant, financial advisor or any other professional then the law enables a claim to be made.

This encompasses mistakes and  errors in relation to tax, including Inheritance Tax (IHT) negligence.

For simplicity this site refers to solicitors throughout, but these references should be taken to include all forms of professional Will draughtsmen.