The Legal Services Board (LSB), the body which regulates lawyers in England and Wales, have called for urgent regulation of will writing. The LSB said that all firms who offer will writing and estate administration should be regulated, to protect consumers from fraudsters and cowboy companies.
At the present time, anyone can set up a will-writing service but under new plans will-writing will become a ‘reserved activity’ for the first time. This will mean that anyone offering this service will have to be registered with one of eight professional bodies.
The Chairman of the LSB, David Edmonds, said that such a move was necessary to help “maintain public confidence in an important legal process.’ He added that ‘making a Will is something everyone should do. It is one of the most important actions that individuals take and we should be able to have confidence in those that advise and draft documents for us.”
The Citizens’ Advice Bureau has warned that there are increasing numbers of people being conned by bogus will writers offering services door to door. Often payment is demanded up front and elderly and vulnerable people are left with a Will that is not legally valid.
Chris Kenny, Chief Executive of the LSB, has said that in some cases this leaves grieving relatives with ”just one more thing to sort out, but in others it has been done so badly that the Will is not operative and relatives would have to go through a lengthy legal process to sort things out.”
Head of Wills & Tax at Frettens, Lee Young, echoes Chris Kenny’s comments. He says “I am pleased that the process is becoming regulated to protect people from making a will that turns out to be useless. Our Dispute Resolution Partner, Michelle Hayter, frequently deals with cases where relatives have an upsetting and protracted legal situation to deal with as well as the practical and emotional difficulties of losing someone close. We obviously recommend that you use an experienced solicitor who specialises in writing wills to ensure your wishes are translated correctly and also to ensure the most suitable tax planning steps are taken.”