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LSB probate report likely to increase calls for regulation

Only half of non-solicitors who undertake probate and estate administration work are regulated by an external body, according to a study published by the Legal Services Board.

16 March 2012

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The Probate and Estate Management Services Survey, published on 15 March, found that while nearly all solicitors interviewed were authorised, supervised or regulated by the SRA or Law Society, of those non-solicitors who practised such activities, accountants and banks were the most likely to be regulated.

The findings are expected to intensify calls for the regulation of probate and estate administration services.

The report into the industry was prepared for the LSB by IFF Research as part of the statutory investigation, conducted under sections 24 and 26 of the Legal Services Act 2007, into whether the market for will-writing, probate and estate administration ought to be regulated differently.

It comes in response to findings from the Legal Services Consumer Panel, released last year, which identified evidence of consumer detriment. While the early investigation into will-writing produced compelling evidence, as well as highlighting the link between will-writing advice and estate administration and probate, the need for further evidence in relation to these associated services was identified.

The LSB will be issuing proposals as a result of its statutory investigation into the regulation of will-writing, probate and estate administration in late April.

Other findings included:

  • Solicitors dominate the probate and/or estate administration market in terms of the number of businesses offering such services and the number of estates administered per year. On average, the solicitors interviewed administered around 100 estates per year. The number is far lower for non-solicitors who averaged around 15 per year.
  • Probate and estate administration work typically accounts for around one-fifth of a law firm’s working time.
  • All solicitors interviewed offer a full service – administering the estate and preparing the application for probate – but all offered lower level services depending on the client’s requirements.
  • The most common task to be outsourced by non-solicitors was the application for grants of representation and probate.
  • Both solicitors and non-solicitors charge similar fees for probate and/or estate administration services: around £1,500 for a simple estate and approximately £5,000 for estates with complex circumstances.
  • Trust corporations tend to charge more, averaging around £4,000 for the administration of a will for a client with simple circumstances and £10,000 for a client with complex circumstances.
  • The main challenges to the probate and/or estate administration process are: complex wills, technical errors, a lack of information provided by the executor or testator and overcharging.

The report is based on 100 telephone interviews IFF Research conducted from November 2011 with businesses providing probate and estate administration services in England and Wales. These included firms of solicitors, specialist will-writers, accountants, banks/building societies, charities, financial advisers and trust corporations.

For the full report see

Categorised in:

Wills, Trusts & Probate