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Society calls for powers of attorney and trusts work to be reserved activities

The Law Society has called for plans by the LSB to make will writing and estate administration reserved activities to be extended to include powers of attorney and trusts.

17 July 2012

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Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, president of the society, said this morning that it was important that the new reserved activities “capture all activities” that the consumer might be offered.

“In particular, we are concerned that the current proposal doesn’t capture powers of attorney and trusts when they are not connected to the drafting of a will, and could therefore be left unregulated,” she said.

In its response to the LSB’s consultation, the society said there was “evidence to suggest that unregulated providers are using powers of attorney as a way of being able to obtain a grant of probate on behalf of their clients, even though this is a reserved activity.”

The society said it was essential that the person preparing the power of attorney had sufficient knowledge and understanding to provide comprehensive advice and reflect the donor’s wishes, which often involved “complex and emotive” matters.

A health and welfare power of attorney, which allowed the donor to give authority for the attorney to give or refuse consent to life-sustaining medical treatment, required a “high degree of trust” in the attorneys.

Since it was likely that most powers of attorney were arranged independently of will making, the society said any proposal to limit reserved activities to will writing and estate administration would not capture “the majority” of attorney-related work.

Society officials said in the response that there would be “enormous uncertainty” if the only trusts included in the reserved activities were those connected to the preparation of wills.

“Trusts should only be set up and managed by those qualified to provide adequate advice and appropriate support in doing so,” they said.

“The problems arising in relation to property protection trusts are a good example of the detrimental impact which consumers may face if unregulated providers are able to provide these sorts of services.

“The preparation and administration of trust deeds is a very complex area and if this area is not reserved many vulnerable clients, who are not familiar with trusts, could be mis-sold expensive products that may not be needed or which may be inappropriate for the client.”

Categorised in:

Wills, Trusts & Probate