Despite having worked hard to bring a standard regulation to the will writing industry and to protect those seeking to write a will, the Lord Chancellor has ruled that other avenues of protection must first be explored before considering the possibility of regulation again.
On 13 February, the Legal Services Board (LSB) presented its report regarding English will writing, estate administration and probate activites; recommending that the Lord Chancellor bring these activities entirely under the regulatory umbrella of legal protection.
Although the Lord Chancellor agreed that there was a problem of unprofessionalism among some within the industry, regulation was a costly exercise, and would not be considered until other solutions had been explored, namely:
- targeted guidance for practitioners
- strengthening of regulation of authorised professionals
- voluntary regulation schemes & codes of practice for non-authorised providers
- increased education for consumers on differing types of provider & their rights
In addition, investigation is currently underway as to whether will writing could become classified as legal services, without adding any extra burden to the regulatory landscape. Until such time as this has been completed however, no decision will be made.
It must be said that the focus of this ruling does seem to lie on minimising costs as much as possible, to the detriment of the consumer. However, in the meantime, if you’re looking for a will writer or probate expert, ensure that they are a member of a regulatory or self-regulatory body (for example, IWC is a member of The Society of Will Writers). In addition, do your research – check reviews online and ask for references, or check with friends and family.
Recently, the Legal Services Board (LSB), recommended to the Lord Chancellor that will writing should only be carried out by regulated professionals.
This is of course the first positive step in what will inevitably prove a long and challenging road for will writing regulation. In the meantime, the SWW is campaigning to allow clients fast and easy access to the Legal Ombudsman, should they be dissatisfied with any aspect of the service they have received to date.
It is certainly heartening however, to learn that these two professional bodies are actively driving this campaign for will writing regulation, which must surely only benefit those involved in the industry and their clients.
The LSB in drafting these recommendations also advised that estate administration activities needs no further regulation stating that regulation would not be able to stop criminal activity. IWC wholeheartedly agreed with this finding and IWC Director Tony Crocker was pleased to read that his viewpoint would appear to have been listened to. Afterall if regulation was the answer why are there some solicitors convicted of fraud against estates.