Wills left in street

AROUND 1,000 confidential files relating to people’s wills were dumped deliberately on the doorstep of a Doncaster legal firm after a rival company closed down.

The files, containing personal and confidential information, had to be recovered by officials from a trade body to ensure their safekeeping.

It is understood they were left on the pavement outside Express Law’s premises on the West Moor business park at Armthorpe for about an hour before being safely gathered up by the staff from the Society of Will Writers, which is based in Lincoln.

They say the shocking incident has highlighted the need for will writing firms to be officially licensed.

The files contained personal information, much of it relating to elderly and vulnerable persons, which Minster Legal Services - a will writing company based in Gainsborough - obtained from clients.

In many cases the clients had paid thousands of pounds for wills and trusts which they have never received.

Minster Legal Services, who were not members of the Society of Will Writers, ceased trading in March this year when their sole director David Hodgson, a solicitor, died unexpectedly.

Representatives from Minster Legal Services dumped the files on the street outside Express Law, allegedly because some of Minster’s former employees worked there.

Express Law contacted the Society of Will Writers as they did not know what to do and could not accept them, so the Society arranged to collect the files for safe keeping.

Minster Legal Services had a national network of consultants selling wills and lifetime trusts, and in particular targeted local charity groups in order to sell their services.

The Society has written to all former Minster clients whose details were contained in the files to inform them where their files are and how the Society of Will Writers can help them.

The Society has also recovered hundreds of original documents which many Minster clients believed they paid the firm to safely ‘store’ on their behalf.

“What is of greater concern to the Society is that many of Minster’s clients, having paid several thousands of pounds in many cases, believe they have a trust or a valid will which in many cases they do not,” said director general Brian McMillan.

“We are trying as much as we can to help those who have been relying on this company. We have sent a letter to all of them, explaining that if they want us to qualify the documents we are happy to do that free of charge.”

Anyone who had dealings with Minster and has not had their completed documents should contact the Society.