Articles about solicitors and legal services

Will writing to be regulated to protect the public

Will writing and estate administration services are to face strict regulation to protect consumers from sloppy and fraudulent practitioners.

The move comes after a long investigation by the Legal Services Board (LSB) the body that oversees the regulation of legal services.

The issue arose because at the moment, anyone can set up in business as a will writer, even though they have no qualifications, no insurance and are not regulated in any way. Solicitors, on the other hand, have to be highly qualified and must abide by a strict code imposed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The LSB investigation found that many wills were not drawn up properly and were not legally valid or failed to meet the client's requirements.

An LSB statement said: "We found consistent patterns of sloppiness, simple errors and poor communication. This often resulted in an unacceptable service.

"Too often consumers were subjected to unfair sales practices. There have also been well-documented examples of fraud and deception."

The LSB proposals would see will writing and administration services become "reserved activities". This means they will be regulated in the same way as many other legal services such as conveyancing and litigation.

The Chairman of the LSB, David Edmonds, said: "Making a will is something everyone should do. It is one of the most important actions that individuals take. We all should have a high degree of confidence in those entrusted with the task of writing our wills, advising us on the most appropriate actions, and ensuring that our wishes are carried out.

"Ultimately, people must be able to write a will with confidence, not fear. For that to be possible, everyone offering such services must deliver a baseline of consumer protection. This is not about extending regulation for the sake of it; it is about maintaining public confidence in an important legal process."

It's expected that the new rules will come into effect next year. In the meantime, anyone wishing to make a will should ensure they use a qualified and regulated provider.

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