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Will writing should be overseen by single regulator, says Law Society

A two-tier system for regulating will writing would be confusing to consumers, the Law Society warned today (8 November 2012), as it urged the Legal Services Board (LSB) to reconsider its preferred approach to the future regulation of the industry.

8 November 2012

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The Law Society believes that the LSB’s preference for a number of different regulators to oversee will writing and estate administration activities will lead to an “undesirable reduction in the consumer protection available” and may risk a diminution of standards.

“A multiplicity of different regulators and the possibility that existing regulators might have to amend the existing satisfactory arrangements would be a wasteful use of resources and time as well as cause confusion for firms and clients,” said Law Society President Lucy Scott-Moncrieff.

Instead, the Law Society is urging the LSB to ensure that universal minimum protections apply to all those who undertake reserved activities. The protections currently offered by solicitors are a good benchmark for the future regulation of the will writing industry, the Society believes.

“Regulation is the appropriate means of protecting the consumer in this area and a consistent standard of regulation for all persons authorised to carry out reserved activities is essential,” said Scott-Moncrieff.

“Solicitors are already trained and regulated to provide a good service for consumers. A wide range of legal training, together with the ethical principles of professionalism, owing a duty to the court and acting in a client’s best interests, are embedded within both the initial training and continuing professional development,” she continued.

The Society has also stressed that the proposed new rules regarding regulation should be broadened to include will writing and estate administration services as well as powers of attorney and trusts. It is particularly concerned that the extraction of a grant of probate through an appointed attorney by an organisation should fall within the scope of the proposed legal activities and is prevented through the new regulatory arrangements.

Instances where bodies, such as trade unions or banks, offer to prepare a will for free as part of an individual’s membership or bank account package should also be covered by regulation, says the Law Society.

In its response to the LSB’s consultation on will writing, probate and estate administration activities, the Society also raises concerns that incentives for referral arrangements will arise following the reservation of these activities.

The Legal Service’s Board consultation into the regulation of will-writing, probate and estate administration activities closes at 5pm today (8 November 2012). See http://www.legalservicesboard.org.uk/what_we_do/consultations/open/index...

Categorised in:

Legal services Wills, Trusts & Probate