Solicitors are subject to strict regulations so when they help you to draw up a will they have to comply with the highest professional standards.
However, many of the people offering will writing services are not solicitors and are not regulated in any way. Some have very little training yet are still allowed to prepare wills, which are extremely important and often complex legal documents.
This lack of regulation has led to numerous problems over the years. Many people have been overcharged for wills that turn out to be invalid because they are not properly drawn up. Some people have been subjected to unfair practices such as pressure selling or cross selling of unnecessary services.
Others find that the will doesn’t properly reflect their intentions.
The Legal Services Board (LSB) has now begun an investigation into whether will-writing should be regulated to protect consumers. It recently chaired a meeting with interested parties such as the Office of Fair Trading, the Law Society, the Ministry of Justice and Which magazine.
The delegates agreed that the system should be tightened up to ensure that consumers are protected against fraudulent estate administration. The investigation will look at ways of ensuring that a will does what the consumer wants it to do, is competitively priced and doesn’t leave beneficiaries with problems.
An LSB statement said: “The present arrangements, which have grown up in a haphazard way over several centuries, do not reflect the realities of consumer protection in a diverse legal market.”
We shall keep clients informed of developments.
Please contact us if you would like more information about wills and probate.