Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Making a Will to give to charity ? Better to donate direct to Charity.

While of course, giving to charity is a noble and worthy thing to do, and something everyone would be advised to do at least once in their lifetime, people must be sure about what they are doing, particularly when it comes to matters involving solicitors ....

In this instance, we have a story from BBC News, reporting on "Will Relief", in which more than 100 solicitors and 150 legal firms are to have waive their fees (in exchange for client donations of their fees to a charity) for drawing up wills as part of a drive to help charities (a good PR exercise for the Scottish legal profession in times of Parliamentary Inquiries and soaring client complaints of 5000 + per year - a significant percentage involving lawyers handling of wills and theft of deceased assets ...)

It is a little strange, that the Justice Minister comes into this story, with quotes on encouraging people to draw up a will, if they have not done so, for the benefit of this charitable project .. because as hundreds of people each year in Scotland have found - the lawyer handling the will of their dead relative has ripped off their possessions, money, even their property .. leaving almost nothing for the remaining family to inherit .... Maybe Cathy Jamieson should have saved her support for after the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission comes in to force .. . or even better - you, the Scottish public, could give direct to the charities, rather than going through the very perilous route of giving through a Scottish lawyer (something surely which should have a Government Health Advisory these days).

Making a will is certainly not a trivial matter - although of course, some at the Scottish Executive would have us believe it is, in the guise of 'giving to charity' by involving members of Scotlands infamous legal profession - who have a very poor record for handling clients wills ....

Thought should go to how you are going to draw up your will, WHO you are going to assign as Executors, and what legal firm (if you name one), are to be the legal agents acting for your will to wind up your estate after your death, so the people you intend your possessions to go to, actually get them.

Imagine, for instance, you appoint two executors, family members, to your will, and then appoint a lawyer to act as legal agent - who then goes on to rip off your estate after you are dead - overcharing fees for work, opening unneccesary overdraft accounts with their own favourite Bank to pay over huge interest payments just to get more personal financial deals, even take some of your possessions for themselves out of your home .... just because you were encouraged to write up a quick will in such a campaign ? well ... it happens all the time .. and a will with a Scottish lawyer doesn't guarantee that your family will get what you indend them to receive .. just because the lawyer was waiving the drawing up fee to give to charity ... something. out of personal experience, I'm sure they will recoup more than double with interest, after a client's death.

Another point of interest to those thinking of signing up to the latest legal profession scheme to encourage people to write up a will, is the nightmare figures of complaints against Scottish solicitors involving dealings in wills, many of which are subject to complaints by beneficiaries and remaining family members.

As we all know, last year, there were 5000+ complaints against solicitors in Scotland, and since around 1990, there have been around 2000+ letters of complaint received each year by the Law Society of Scotland over crooked lawyers ripping off clients by various methods - including of course, ripping off the wills of the deceased clients - something which has been a favourite money spinner of Scottish lawyers for years ... and something which has provoked hundreds of complaints from deceased clients families each year.

There are just under 10,000 solicitors in Scotland. However, as the complaints statistics show, there have been at least 20,000 complaints against Scottish lawyers between 1990 - 2000, and from 2000-2006, the statistics show an average of 3000+ going up to 5000 complaints a year, making another 20,000 or more ...

That's at least 40,000 complaints against Scottish solicitors between 1990 - 2006, although these figures are suspected to be much higher, since the determination of what is actually a complaint is heavily manipulated by the Client Relations Office of the Law Society of Scotland (some estimates put the actual letters of complaint to the Law Society to be on more than 8000 individual cases per annum in recent years) ... and of course, some clients complaints never make it for many other reasons - including, client intimidation by the legal profession ....

This level of client dissatisfaction demonstrates the need and requirement for an independent complaints commission as is proposed in the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, currently under stage 1 consideration by the Justice 2 Committee.

However, the complaints statistics also demonstrate that if you are going to make a will, or have made a will in Scotland, you particularly need to ask for a disclosure of your solicitors regulatory history with regard to handling clients wills - and if you don't get to find out how your solicitor has performed in the past on such matters - don't take your business there ...

It would be interesting to see how the 100 solicitors and 150 legal firms signing up for the charitable cause who are to waive their fees in exchange for client donations, have performed in the past with regard to clients cases, and what their regulatory history disclose ... and particularly when solicitors get involved in such charitable events, which are given public support by politicians ... there should be regulatory disclosure available to clients, and tight contracts included in such wills to ensure that end fees (the fees charged to your will and residual estate after your death) do not include such hokum where lawyers go off and recoup their initial drawing up fee which is to go to charity ...

Of course, some are going to say .. oh well, lawyers are condemned whatever they do, even if their intentions are good.. but the truth is .. given the way the legal profession in Scotland has acted over the years towards clients - there can be no trust at all, none, between a client and a Scottish solicitor, because the solicitor is ultimately out to gain for themselves - over and above any consideration for you, the client, and there is n-o-t-h-i-n-g you will ever be able to do about it, as long as the likes of the Law Society of Scotland is in charge of the Scottish legal profession and lawyer covers up for lawyer.

So, writing a will ? give it a little more consideration before you jump into something you and your remaining family might well regret ... there are of course, plenty examples on the internet for you to read though where people's wills have went spectacularly wrong in Scotland ... and the lawyers have won every time .....

Giving to Charity ? - We at Injustice Scotland advise you to do it !. If you want to give to worthy charities, go direct to the charities and give donations directly to them - for instance, Scottish Relief International, the organisation mentioned by Cathy Jamieson, is located here at : and you can give to them directly without having to make a will.

Link to the report, from BBC News, at :
Lawyers to waive fees for charity

More than 100 solicitors are to waive their fees for drawing up wills as part of a drive to help children in Malawi.

They will ask clients to donate their fees in May to Will Relief Scotland.

It will split the money among five international charities, including one which co-ordinates the Mary's Meals project in Malawi.

More than 150 law firms have signed up to the scheme, which will also help charities working in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America.

The campaign was welcomed by Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson at its launch in Edinburgh, where Dr David Livingstone's testament was on display.

The explorer and missionary was the first Scot to establish links with Malawi.

Ms Jamieson said: "I am sure there will be many more Scots willing to donate the cost of making their will to organisations such as Scottish International Relief.

"It does a fantastic job providing a school meal for thousands of children through the Mary's Meals project and the money from Will Relief will mean they can provide support for many more."

The public can be sure that the donations will not have limited effectGraeme PaganWill Relief Scotland founder

She said she hoped the scheme would encourage people across Scotland to consider drawing up a will, which usually costs between £200-£600.

Oban solicitor Graeme Pagan, founder of Will Relief Scotland, said: "The charities receiving that money have been specifically chosen because of the different countries and continents in which they are working.

"The public can be sure that the donations will not have limited effect but will be used to alleviate suffering in a very large number of the world's poorest countries."

Campaign patron Sir Tom Farmer said: "Will Relief is a great opportunity for people to support the vital work of these excellent charities and at the same time put their affairs in order by making a will."

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