Review of Processes – From Draft Documents to Final

5th March 2024Manisha Chauhan0

In the last article of our Review of Processes series, we provided some tips when taking instructions from your clients to ensure the case notes are watertight and detailed.

So, what happens next? The next step is drafting the documents to ensure they are in line with the client’s wishes. These could be Wills, LPAs, Severance documents or even letters of wishes.

Once draft documents are produced they should be sent to the client for approval. The client should advise you at this point of any amendments that need to be made, or if they have any questions about their documents for you to address before producing their final documents.

When sending documents to clients for their comments, you should consider adding a DRAFT watermark over the document to make it clear they aren’t intended to be the final versions. Whilst this step isn’t strictly necessary, you should remember that if you send a Will for example to the client without a watermark, they might mistake their final Will and proceed to sign it.

Issuing of Final Wills

When producing the final Wills we advise binding them with a strong method such as heat binding. This makes it harder for the document to come apart, be tampered with, or amended and put back together in the wrong order, for example.

We do not advise Wills are stapled as this is an insecure method and often causes the probate registrar to raise queries. Suppose at any point the staple came loose and the Will has to be stapled again, or the stapler is faulty and fails to staple properly the first time leaving a mark on the Will. In that case, the registrar won’t admit the will to probate without first receiving affidavits from the witnesses about the condition of the Will. This is so they can assuage any fears the will has been tampered with.

Considerations for Attestation:

Once the final Wills have been delivered to your clients you should take steps to ensure that they are signed properly. Do you offer your clients an attestation service or do you provide instructions to your clients about signing and witnessing their Wills instead?

If you are not attending the signing in person, you should ask your clients to send you a copy of the signature page of the Will to check it has been signed and witnessed correctly.  Alternatively, you could ask the clients to sign a remote attestation form, which acts as a separate copy of the signature page of the Will that they sign and return to you to check and keep for your records.

Issuing of Final LPAs

Once the LPAs are finalised and ready for signature, providing the clients with a signing guide is a good idea to ensure the LPAs are signed and witnessed correctly and in the right order. You can produce your own signing guide or use the guide produced by the OPG.

As soon as the LPAs have been signed by the donor, attorneys and certificate provider, you should check they have been signed and witnessed correctly even if the clients choose not to register their LPAs immediately.

Considerations for Registration:

You should discuss with your clients during the instruction taking appointment what their options are for registering their LPAs. There are currently ongoing delays with the OPG for registering LPAs so make sure they’re aware of this fact as it could mean when the document is ready to be registered it might be some time before it is returned.

Additional Procedures

We would advise discussing professional storage with your clients to alleviate the risk of their documents becoming damaged or destroyed. This could be especially important if a Will is needed for probate, or if LPAs are not being sent for registration right away.

Finally, make sure it is clear in your terms of business about when payment from the client is required. Some Will Writers ask for payment upfront before the documents are produced whereas others ask for payment once the documents are finalised.

Manisha Chauhan

Manisha joined the Society’s Technical Advice Team in July 2019 having previously worked as an Employment Solicitor in Warwickshire before relocating to Lincolnshire. Manisha provides advice on technical queries for Society Members and ongoing support on our professional drafting software, Sure Will Writer.

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The Society of Will Writers is a non-profit making self-regulatory organisation whose primary objectives are the advancement, education and ethical standards within the will writing profession.

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