Articles about solicitors and legal services

Only use qualified professionals for wills and probate

People are often surprised to find that anyone can set up in business providing will writing and probate services - even if they have no qualifications and no insurance to protect their clients if something goes wrong.

This has led to thousands of cases of people being overcharged, or having wills drawn up that are not legally watertight.

The Legal Services Board (LSB) conducted an extensive investigation into the problem and has recommended that will writing and estate administration services should face strict regulation to protect consumers from sloppy and fraudulent practitioners.

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 move has been welcomed by solicitors who, in contrast to other will writers, have to be highly qualified and abide by a strict code imposed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The Law Society is backing the LSB proposals on regulation but has also decided to set up its own accreditation scheme for will writing and probate services to give consumers extra confidence.

Society chief executive Des Hudson said "such a scheme can demonstrate that skills, quality assurance and appropriate service standards" are being met by accredited providers.

Mr Hudson said that solicitors offered "greater levels of competence" as well as "an in-depth understanding of what can be a complex area and a professional commitment to acting solely in the interests of our clients".

It’s hoped that stricter regulation and the accreditation scheme will be introduced next year.

In the meantime, anyone requiring will and probate services should ensure that they use a qualified and regulated provider.

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