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Will Writing to be Regulated

25th February, 2013

In a move welcomed by the Law Society, The Legal Services Board (LSB) has this month finally agreed that Will Writing services should be regulated. The recommendation follows a two year investigation by the LSB which uncovered evidence of “systemic problems with the services delivered by many types of provider”. The board found that people who wanted to write a will were suffering unfair sales practices and has recommended a move to regularize the market in will writing to help maintain public confidence in this important legal process.

The LSB report initially published in April 2012 includes details of wills that were drafted so badly that they could not be executed and examples of fraud and deception.

The LSB has now made its recommendation to the Lord Chancellor and if accepted should improve standards and provide greater protection for clients who will be able to seek redress from the Legal Services Ombudsman (this is already the case if a Solicitor prepares your will).

At present anyone can charge to write a will. However, if the new plans go ahead will writing is set to become a ‘reserved activity’ meaning that the service provider must be registered with  certain professional bodies.  It is hoped this will cut down the number of bogus will writers who often prey on the elderly and vulnerable. The citizen’s advice bureau has warned that increasing numbers of people have been conned by advertisements for cheap wills in newspapers or cold calling. Once a person has signed up for the service, hidden and sometimes extortionate charges are added to the bill in a number of cases.

The Law Society had also campaigned for estate administration work to be regulated and although initially proposed for inclusion on the list of reserved activities the LSB has decided for the time being to leave matters as they stand. Evidence had been submitted to the LSB of persons prosecuted for running off with estate money and other problems caused by unregulated persons carrying out estate administration work. Law Society President Lucy Scott-Moncrieff commented as reported in the Law Society Gazette 13.02.2013 “We welcome the recommendations to regulate will writing activities, however we remain concerned that there is no regulation or monitoring in place to ensure that administrators do not misappropriate the estate’s assets”.

Making a will is an important issue and has huge consequences for a family’s wealth and peace of mind. There are many considerations and legal issues to address which are not immediately apparent. By choosing a Solicitor who is also a member of STEP (Society of Trusts & Estates Practitioner) you can be sure you are receiving high quality advice from a qualified practitioner who has the technical expertise and practical experience specific to will writing, estate planning and any taxation issues that may be relevant.

For more information about Aaron & Partners LLP will writing and estate administration services please call 01244 405555 and ask to speak with a member of our Wills Trusts & Tax team.

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