Regulate will-writing, Society urges
The Law Society today backed plans to extend the list of reserved activities to include will-writing and estate administration.
In a consultation response to the Legal Services Board, the Society said reserved work should start at the point where client contact is first made and end when the will is executed.
The Society also believes the proposed scope for regulation should be comprehensive enough to include powers of attorney and trusts, to remove any confusion for consumers as to what protection they have. The LSB outlined proposals in April to extend regulation for will-writing to ensure consumer protections, including access to redress. Consultation on the issue closed today.
In its response, the Law Society says solicitors are trained and regulated to provide a good service for consumers.
It adds: ‘There is a clear risk if such professional values and breadth of knowledge is not required of providers who might enter the regulated market for the first time and be authorised to carry out work in this limited area of activity.
‘It is therefore imperative that the right structures are put in place to avoid risk to the consumer and the emergence of double standards of work.’
The Law Society said a consistent standard of regulation will reduce confusion for clients and discourage a ‘race to the bottom’ between competing regulators.
The response noted that voluntary self-regulation would not prevent a will-writer from continuing to act or controlling a business, even if they had been struck off the roll or suspended from practising. It said there is a two-tier system in the current market where not all providers are regulated.
The LSB launched the consultation after discovering problems around quality, service issues, transparency and fraud were more common in the unregulated sector.
Later this summer, a draft recommendation will be made to the lord chancellor, before a final report is produced in the winter.