Professional Negligence

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Professional Negligence – when a will has not been prepared or witnessed properly

When Rachel* witnessed her mother’s will, she had no idea that her actions meant the document would not be legal. It was only when the executor refused to pay out her legacy of £10,000 because her signature was on the document that she realised there was a problem.

Her mother’s will had been prepared by a firm of solicitors who had also made the arrangements for it to be witnessed and signed. But because they didn’t ensure that the will was signed by an independent person who was not going to benefit from the estate,that meant the document was void.

The law

We, like every firm of solicitors which prepares wills, have a duty of care to the beneficiaries of those estates. If someone suffers a loss as a result of a solicitor’s negligence, then they can make a claim against the firm which prepared the will.

In this case the mistake was due to the technicalities of signing a will. We have seen other errors in the preparation of wills, such as a failure to identify property as part of an estate, or simply not drafting the will in a way which carries out the deceased’s intentions. 

What happened next?

We sent a letter of claim to the law firm which prepared the will seeking recovery of Rachel’s loss of £10,000, plus all her legal costs. Within 14 days she received a cheque for the full amount.

If you have concerns that a will has not been prepared properly and you have concerns about potential negligence we can review the position and consider whether there may be a claim against the firm who prepared it. It also highlights the importance of instructing a firm of solicitors with genuine expertise when you are preparing your own will.

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