The directors of the Midlands will-writing firm Willmakers of Distinction have been jailed for the theft of more than £400,000 from the estates of clients.

Nicholas Butcher was jailed for three and a half years and banned from acting as a director for seven years, after admitting five charges of theft and two of fraudulent trading. David Nash, the founder of the firm, was also given a prison sentence of three and a half years, after admitting six charges of theft and three charges of fraudulent trading.

The directors’ available assets were confiscated but fall far short of the sum needed to fully compensate the victims of the fraud. It remains to be seen if their clients will be fully recompensed for the losses they have suffered.

The case was featured in a report on the private will-writing industry on the BBC’s Panorama programme in August. The investigation uncovered numerous cases where the fee for producing a will far exceeded the initial estimate and instances of beneficiaries being charged substantial unagreed amounts for estate administration.

Using a solicitor to prepare and administer your will not only means you can be confident of the professional standards of the preparer, but also means that you are backed by comprehensive insurance arrangements in the unlikely event that anything does go wrong.