For the first time in the UK, writing a will is to be fully regulated after the Legal Services Board found that some firms were offering an “unacceptable service for customers”, the Telegraph is reporting.
Unfair sale practices, fraud and deception are blighting the will-writing industry, the Legal Service Board - which regulates lawyers – has alleged and in recent evidence it found that a small number of firms were simply “not listening” to their clients.
The findings have led the board to announced plans to regulate will-writing to improve standards, with LSB Chairman, David Edmonds, adding that such a move will help “maintain public confidence in an important legal process”.
“We found consistent patterns of sloppiness, simple errors and poor communication. This often resulted in an unacceptable service for customers. Too often consumers were subjected to unfair sales practices,” a report published by the LSB into will writing revealed this week.
In addition to the research, a supplementary survey by the LSB of 100 people who needed a will found that 20% came back with “basic errors” in their wills, a handful of which were so bad that their will “could not be executed”.
Under current regulations, anyone can help to write a will but the LSB’s changes will make will-writing a "reserved activity" for the first time, meaning that anyone writing a will have to be registered with one of eight professional bodies.
The new plans - which will be put out to consultation before going to Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke at the end of the year - would ensure a “baseline of protection for consumers, effective regulation, and to enable competition and innovation”, added the Telegraph.
“Our research shows that there are significant numbers of people receiving poor service and poor outcomes,” said David Edmonds.
“We found too many examples of providers - lawyers and will-writers alike - not listening to their clients or being sloppy in their work”. This meant that “those taking the important step of writing a will were also, unfortunately, leaving problems to their beneficiaries”.
Making a will is something everyone should do. It is one of the most important actions that individuals take and everyone should be able to have confidence in those who advise and draft such sensitive documents.