Many people will probably advise you to get a solicitor when it comes to estate planning. However, they don’t know that paralegals can actually do almost everything solicitors can and are often more specialised.
What is a Paralegal?
Paralegals are sometimes considered less knowledgeable than lawyers, solicitors, and barristers; however, this is often not the case. Although they are not qualified lawyers, paralegals are vital to many law firms and provide an invaluable service to millions of clients. They are highly qualified and hold certifications such as:
- A law degree
- An award in legal studies
- A postgraduate paralegal diploma
Paralegals often undertake detailed research on legal issues, drafting vital legal documents including Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney, and assisting clients with legal decisions. Many paralegals choose to specialise in one area of the law, and their expertise on many subjects is invaluable.
Paralegals can do almost everything solicitors can do, from taking action against your employer to writing a comprehensive Will and setting up a trust to protect your assets. However, there are a few key differences between paralegals and other law professions.
Paralegals V Solicitors – What’s The Difference?
The key difference between a paralegal and a solicitor is that solicitors can represent you in court – paralegals cannot. However, if you choose to represent yourself, known as being a litigant in person, a qualified paralegal can assist and advise you.
Another significant difference is price. Solicitors commonly charge hundreds of pounds per hour, whereas the average hourly cost for a paralegal falls between £20 to £50
When creating a Will, solicitors can sign for a client, whereas paralegals cannot. Despite this, paralegals can be highly practised in creating Wills, often specialising in the field of Wills, probate, and later life planning where solicitors do not tend to specialise in one area.
Why Use a Paralegal?
Aside from the clear price difference, people use paralegals to do many of the same jobs that solicitors do. Paralegals can often reduce bills by helping you deal with matters yourself or working out a solution that avoids the needs of a solicitor entirely.
Paralegals can prepare a range of documents relating to later life planning, including:
- Protective Property Trusts – This trust can ring-fence your family home and ensure that it is passed on to your beneficiaries rather than being sold to cover high care fees if care is needed.
- Family Protection Trusts – A family protection trust can help to reduce probate times, account for potential care fees, and allow children to inherit whenever you want.
- Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) – An LPA is a key document that allows you to appoint a person of your choice to handle your affairs if you lose capacity in any way. Without it, a stranger or someone you may not want could be put in charge of making decisions for you.
At The Planning Bee, all of our paralegals are highly experienced in all aspects of later life planning. With decades of experience working in the industry, they have worked on many cases regarding Wills, LPAs, and several forms of trusts.
A common misconception about paralegals is that they are completely unregulated by a governing body the way lawyers and solicitors are, when in fact, two bodies govern paralegals: the Institute of Paralegals and The National Association of Licensed Paralegals.
Our paralegals at The Planning Bee are members of one of these two associations, which help regulate the profession and ensure high standards and service across the board.
Where solicitors will generally only recommend very basic Wills, paralegals can do much more for a much lower price. A carefully drafted Will can protect against a range of issues, including:
- Sideways disinheritance
- Children divorcing
- Reducing Inheritance Tax
Experienced paralegals recognise that each Will is going to be unique. Even for a couple who may have similar Wills, they will never cut corners by drafting a mirror Will – each document will be specific to the individual’s wishes and take into account differing issues that may arise.
Many people might be hesitant to use a paralegal or Will writing service as they have heard that the Will writing industry is unregulated. Despite this, professional bodies help to regulate the industry, including the Society of Will Writers and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.
Paralegals are highly qualified legal professionals who can do many of the same tasks that solicitors can. They carry out detailed research and prepare legal documents and can write comprehensive, watertight Wills and set up trusts and Lasting Powers of Attorney.
Contact The Planning Bee today for all of your estate planning needs. Our paralegals have decades of experience in the Will writing and estate planning field, and we carry £2m of professional indemnity insurance so you can be reassured that your assets will be covered in case of emergencies.
Ready to start estate planning today? Contact The Planning Bee today for a zero-obligation consultation.