The Legal Services Board has made its recommendation to the Lord Chancellor that will writing should be regulated, which has been supported by both probate lawyers and the willwriters but they have expressed their frustration that there would be no similar recommendation for estate administration.
The LSB has proposed that estate administration should be regulated in September last year. But change of heart by LSB has been criticised by its own consumer panel the Legal Services Consumer (LSC) panel.
Elisabeth Davies chairperson of the panel said that it was very disappointing that the LSB had ultimately decided not to recommend regulations of estate administration activities at this time.
Though market share for unregulated businesses was currently small the damage such business could cause to beneficiaries by means of fraud or poor service was potentially huge she said.
With huge deal of costs involved in estate dealing and any thing going wrong at this juncture would leave people without a safety net when they are at their most vulnerable. The money involved during such times are life changing.
Davies added there was a need to make fast progress on the self-regulation of will writing, including measures to reduce fraud and the involvement of LeO.
Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, president of the Law Society, said they had submitted evidence to the LSB of people who have been prosecuted for running off with estates, among other problems that have been caused by unregulated people doing this work.
At the moment unregulated individuals were charged with distributing considerable sums of money. It is becoming more difficult to assist consumers to identify reputable service providers. The evidence hints at many more cases where beneficiaries do not obtain what they should.
She added choosing a solicitor ensures a high level of service and expertise plus guaranteed consumer protection. Regulation of all providers of will writing services was going to be effective only if it was of a similar standard to that already applied to probate solicitors.
The Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) said it was disappointed that the LSB had not agreed with the consumer panel that the administration of a deceased person’s estate should be regulated.
A spokesman for IPW said there was a huge risk for consumers because this process involved handling money and assets belonging to a deceased person. These money could often is in hundreds and thousands of pounds and are susceptible to loss due to fraud or theft.
The LSB said it had recommended that the Lord Chancellor amend the list of reserved activities to include will writing, but not estate administration or probate, which was already regulated.