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Public 'at risk' as will writing remains unregulated

Posted: 15th July 2013   In: Wills, Trusts and Probate

The Law Society says the Government decision not to regulate will writing puts the public at risk of being exploited by unqualified and unscrupulous practitioners.

Many legal services are strictly regulated but will writing is not. The Law Society and the Legal Services Board have long campaigned for stricter controls to protect the public but the Government has decided not to take any action.

The decision means that anyone can set up in business providing will writing and probate services - even if they have no qualifications and no insurance to protect their clients if something goes wrong. Solicitors, on the other hand, have to be highly qualified and must abide by a strict code imposed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The fact that will writing is not regulated has led to thousands of people being overcharged, or having wills drawn up that are not legally watertight.

The Legal Services Board (LSB) conducted an extensive investigation which found that many wills were not drawn up properly and were not legally valid or failed to meet the client’s requirements.

An LSB statement said: “We found consistent patterns of sloppiness, simple errors and poor communication. This often resulted in an unacceptable service.

“Too often consumers were subjected to unfair sales practices. There have also been well-documented examples of fraud and deception.”

The Government decision not to regulate will writing services has disappointed many legal experts.

Desmond Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society, said: “Consumers have been let down by this deeply disappointing decision. Unregulated providers can carry on writing wholly unsuitable wills, leaving consumers without any recourse when things go wrong.”

Please contact Meg Cooper or Gemma Dilley if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of wills and probate.