Legal Services Board Regulation

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    Business in Wills
    Business in Wills

    The Legal Services Board (LSB), which oversees the regulation of lawyers in England and Wales, has put forward proposals for the regulation of willwriting.

    Whether or not to regulate will-writing and estate administration services has long been debated. But the LSB has now reviewed all of the available evidence about the problems suffered by some consumers in these areas.

    It has conducted research to identify what the risks to consumers are and why they emerge. The LSB’s investigations found systemic problems with the services delivered by many different types of provider. It found consistent patterns of sloppiness, simple errors and poor communication. Too often consumers were subjected to unfair sales practices. There have also been well-documented examples of fraud and deception.

    The proposals would see all providers of these services regulated and brought within the list of ‘reserved activities’, which relates to those services that only qualified lawyers, such as a solicitor or barrister, can undertake. This includes conveyancing, litigation, probate and advocacy. But it does not currently include other common services such as will-writing, employment law or general legal advice.

    The LSB is also issuing two related publications: one on the approach the LSB will take to examine other gaps in legal services regulation, starting with general legal advice for individual consumers.

    And the second publication is on how and when non-commercial providers of reserved legal services should come within the scope of regulation.

    Chairman of the Legal Services Board, 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.”

    “For many people, the service they receive from their lawyer or will-writer meets their needs. But our research shows that there are significant numbers of people receiving poor service and poor outcomes.

    “We found too many examples of providers – lawyers and will-writers alike – not listening to their clients or being sloppy in their work – meaning those taking the important step of writing a will were also, unfortunately, leaving problems to their beneficiaries.

    “The prevalence of poor sales practices, and indeed the incidence of fraud, was also disappointing.

    “On the other hand, large parts of the willwriting and estate administration market are working well with a variety of different types of suppliers and services that are valued and appreciated.

    “In proposing ways to make sure all consumers receive a service that they can have confidence in, we want to keep this variety of provision. The development of alternative business structures will encourage further competition and innovation in this market.”

    We, at Wills.org.uk, welcome the possibility of regulation as it may finally put a full stop behind the continuous barage of attack our industry has received from the BBC, including poor advice from the BBC to consumers and giving high profile status to the absolute minority of fraudulent practices/companies that they have unearthed and leave the vast majority of companies providing an excellent will writing service to their clients alone at last.

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    Matt Walkden Will Writer

    About Matt Walkden

    I am a Professional Will Writer and I offer a small number of other products that complement my Will Writing such as Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPA’s), Fixed Price Estate Administration, often called Probate and some Property Products such as changing a family home from Joint owners to Tenants in Common.

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