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Govt rejects calls to regulate will writing

Contract-document-legal-2013

The Government has rejected calls to regulate will writing despite the recommendation of the Legal Services Board.

After a two-year investigation, published last November, the LSB found people’s lives were being “seriously damaged” by incompetence or misdemeanour when drafting wills.

It recommended the regulation of will writing, probate and estate administration by the Ministry of Justice giving consumers access to the Legal Ombudsman.

The LSB is responsible for overseeing the UK’s legal regulators and ensuring they act in consumers’ interests.

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Justice minister Helen Grant says: “When people write a will it is extremely important for them to have peace of mind that their affairs will be dealt with how they want them to be.

”That is why we have agreed with the LSB that there is room for improvement in this area. However we are not convinced that regulation is the best way forward – we believe other options should be explored first, including better guidance for professionals and making better use of existing consumer information and protection.”

LSB chairman David Edmonds says: “Naturally we are disappointed by the Government’s decision. However it is their decision alone to make and we will study the details and respond in due course.

“In the mean time the LSB will work with Ministry of Justice officials, consumer groups, providers and other stakeholders to ensure that the issues are tackled and that consumers’ confidence in the market for will writing services is increased.”

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Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson says: “Consumers have been let down by this deeply disappointing decision. We provided plenty of evidence to the LSB, demonstrating that consumers are at real risk from certain unregulated will writers who can be incompetent, untrained and uninsured.

“Thanks to the Government’s decision today, unregulated providers can carry on writing wholly unsuitable wills, leaving consumers without any recourse when things go wrong as a result.”

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Comments

There are 9 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I am in mixed minds about this.

    The statistics are interesting. According to Standard Life’s Wills and Trusts Research Report 2009 compared to 2012, those with no wills at all have increased from 51% to 61% and those over 65 with a will fallen from 79% to 76% (source STEP manual module 2)

    Is any will better than no will?

    Should prices for those not regulated be limited so that the maximum charged cannot exceed a nominal amount linked to the fee to lodge wills for sake keeping at the Court of Protection?

  2. Any idiot can write a will.

    My local IFA charges over £100, while appointing their ‘financial advice’ arm as executors and charging appropriately for ‘administering’ the estate. My solicitor is nearly £40 cheaper ! and I don’t get the string arm sales tactics of my IFA.

    This area is too important to be left to cowboys. It must be regulated now.

  3. Fancy that, Solicitors want Will writing limited!
    This was the right decision

  4. Fancy that, Solicitors want Will writing limited!
    This was the right decision by the government

  5. Anon@12.51
    Is your lawyer an idiot? or are you just looking for an excuse to bad mouth IFAs’?

  6. Yes any idiot can write a will, I have had about 4 is 5 clients die where I took the instructions and drafted them, Had I not at the time, I suspect they would have died intestate. I don’t draft them anymore as my desk is 6ft from a Chartered Legal Executive who is really good and she works for the solicitor in our building who doesn’t do wills. My original post was to highlight that those with valid wills are dropping and the two cases I have been involved with. which were a mess were BOTH drafted by separate solicitors who made school boy mistakes.

    I know what I am good at and what I am. not, but I also know it is important NOT to die inst estate.

  7. Malcolm Ashton 15th May 2013 at 4:24 pm

    As a Chartered Legal Executive with my own Wills and Estate Planning company I am very disappointed with today’s decision. I am constantly coming across badly drafted Wills done by both will-writers and solicitors (usually general practitioners and not specialists) and was looking forward to regulation.
    Yet another government green light to
    “Carry On Cowboy”

  8. The same Standard Life report for LPAs which are onerous paperwork and pricewkise shows 81% of respondents had no LPA. Was tame up of EPAs more common pre 2007 I wonder?

    This is why non advised by a non professional fees should be capped rather than restricting those who can write a will as those dying intestate might rise even higher based on the LPA evidence.

  9. If I might just correct a key point in this discussion, the Government hasn’t rejected regulation of Will-Writing it has rejected adding it to the list of reserved activities.

    Had it been added to the list of reserved activities, people like myself who have received appropriate training (including the STEP Advance Certificate in Will Preparation), have a number of years of experience and carry substantial PI insurance could not have continued to run an independent business and would have been forced to either leave the industry or to forge an association with a firm of solicitors. The latter would surely remove much of my independence and the resulting flexibility that I am able to offer my clients.

    The evidence put forward by the Legal Services Board identified solicitors as producing as many defective Wills as non-solicitors so how eliminating the non-solicitor Will-Writing sector would have benefited the public is hard to say.

    Regulation of Will Writing is still ‘on the table’ as it is likely to be included in the ongoing review of the regulatory framework covering the wider legal services industry.

    Would I welcome regulation? If it is appropriate and proportionate then yes, but if it produces some of the ludicrous outcomes that regulation for financial advisers has produced (such as 20 page reasons why letters that no-one ever reads) then I’m not so sure.

    As to Phil Castle’s suggestion about differing fee scales depending on the ‘professionalism’ of the individual acting – I think that suggestion is missing the point. Surely the key factor is the quality of the service delivered not simply where in the perceived hierarchy the adviser sits.

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