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Legal Services Board calls for will writing to be regulated

by Jun Merrett on Feb 13, 2013 at 10:33

Legal Services Board calls for will writing to be regulated

The Legal Services Board has written to the Lord Chancellor urging him to make will writing subject to regulation.

The recommendation is a result of a two year investigation led by the Legal Services Board which found 'comprehensive evidence' that many consumers purchasing wills from unregulated firms received poor service resulting in financial loss, practical issues and emotional harm.

The Legal Services Board wants the Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling to amend the list of reserved legal activities to include will writing but not estate administration activities.

The board said the recommendation would give consumers better protection by allowing customers of will-writing providers access to the Legal Ombudsman and also increase competition by creating a level-playing field between traditional law firms and new service providers.

Grayling will have to decide whether to regulate will writing by 14 May.

Legal Services Board chairman David Edmonds said: 'This is the first time that we have made a recommendation to bring new legal activities within the regulatory scope of the Act. It is not a step we take lightly.

'The board believes new regulation is a proportionate response in the light of a compelling case underpinned by appropriate evidence.'

9 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Sam De Zoysa

Feb 13, 2013 at 11:08

A guild protecting its perceived turf by raising barriers to entry by dressing it up as consumer protection. Twas ever thus............

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Chris Holmes

Feb 13, 2013 at 11:47

@Sam De Souza

I don't think you have understood the article. LSB is not a 'guild' nor is it protecting its members - it has no members but is the overarching regulator of legal regulators so will/should include Will Writers, who currently face no regulation (okay, a voluntary code of practice, then). You have confused the LSB with the The Law Society.

LSB has reached its conclusion due to questionable practices on Will drafting and the step should be nothing other than positive for the public - and all Will writers, whether Solicitors or not.

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A Childs View

Feb 13, 2013 at 12:01

It all comes down to cost. Solicitors will do it for x, other options will cost y. You pay your money you take your chance in this life.

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Man in Black

Feb 13, 2013 at 12:16

"Regulator Calls For More Regulation" shocker. Tomorrow: "Water is Wet".

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Sam De Zoysa

Feb 13, 2013 at 12:28

@ Chris Holmes

Chris, I should have been clearer that I was referring to the law society when I used the word guild. They are hardly impartial!

http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/representation/policy-discussion/will-writing-and-estate-administration-activities/

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Hickky

Feb 13, 2013 at 14:21

Whatever you guys think, the will writing business is totally a mess and full of rip off merchants. There are a load of will writing guilds, or non regulated trade bodies out there who can give you access to a logo and a code of conduct, but are owned by will writers themselves. They charge a large fee for 'training', sold to retired or recently redundant people hoping to get a part time job. In stead they spend hours accosting shoppers, because, as in so many walks of life, getting the leads is the difficult bit, not writing wills that really are a computer programme.

Lets have a recognised set of exams, PI insurance and a professional outlook in this area. It protects the public against cowboys and ensures that any will advice is at least reasonably accurate.

Mind you, I expect solicitors to pass the exam as well!

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Sam De Zoysa

Feb 13, 2013 at 14:38

@ Hickky

There are cowboys in all walks of life. This appeal to authority is a red herring in my opinion. We (I) benefit from working within a regulated environment in that competitors are fewer than a non-regulated industry look at the cost of estate agents in the US vs the UK.

If you areadvocating a robust, swift, impartial and accessible judicial system that can hand down penalties to wrongdoers, then I'm all for that.

It is far from clear that regulation is the answer though. We are the most regulated industry in the UK after nuclear power. The Dodd-Frank act would not have prevented 2008, the Sarbanes-Oxley would not have prevented Enron. It's far from clear that the Francis recommendations would have prevented Mid-Staffs.

So what are you left with? Insiders earning more than they would have with greater competion and the clients/customers/patients/taxpayer paying the price.

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madmitch

Feb 13, 2013 at 15:21

I notice that they do not want to bring the really lucrative, estate administration under the realms of regulation.

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Hickky

Feb 13, 2013 at 15:33

@Sam

It can't be the case that you condone the current status quo with barely trained will writers armed with a meaningless certificate issued by an interested party:

1 asking and being told information about assets held and other family member recipients.

2 Attempting to mitigate IHT through a will with no training or knowledge of available alternatives.

3 Providing charged will safekeeping services with no checks over adequacy

4 No check on unfounded marketing claims or the adequacy of paid for training courses

All I am saying that will writers should:

a Be registered by a single authority who checks criminal records etc before authorisation.

b Have meaningful training that is approved by a single authority. This need only be to a level 3 qualification with further voluntary upgrades.

c Have PI insurance to cover liability up to £50,000 if will was written in such a way that it failed to meet clients wishes. To this aim a brief fact find should be completed and retained.

d Any storage charged for should be inspected for security on a regular basis.

These rules should also be heeded by solicitors.

If you consider will writers to provide a service at lower cost than the competition, thus making it more affordable for the less well off, you are mistaken. The industry is rife with double dealing, poor value and programme salesmen. The will writers themselves are as much ripped off by the system providors. The trouble with these franchised operations is the main sufferers are the people who get inappropriate wills. More skill is needed from both the solicitors and will writers to ensure clients wishes are met when the inevitable happens.

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