Are Dodgy Will Writers And Cowboy Executors Days Numbered?
- AuthorPaul Hajek
The days of dodgy Will writers and cowboy executors could be over soon
That's if the new independent body with overall responsibility for overseeing the regulation of lawyers in England and Wales, the Legal Services Board (LSB) has its way.
Within the LSB's cross-hairs are so called will-writing and estate administration, who contrary to a majority of the public are entirely unregulated.
The goal of the LSB is to reform and modernise the legal services market place by putting the interests of consumers at the heart of the system
The only time will writers are to the fore is either an expose on Panorama or a headline from the Daily Mail detailing how someone has hoodwinked a member of the public and run off with the proceeds of a deceased's Estate
Dodgy Sales Practices:
The LSB found that ‘too often consumers were subjected to unfair sales practices’, fraud and deception. when such so called will writing and Estate Administration companies were involved.
These companies often gave the impression that they were firms of solicitors or lawyers.
The vital difference is that solicitors carry huge insurance to ensure no client is out of pocket because of a cock- up, whereas the will writers and estate administration companies have no insurance.
It is scant reward to know that the fraudster has been locked up when the poor beneficiary of the will has lost their money
At the moment there is no restriction on who can enter the market and deliver unregulated services, leaving the consumer potentially very vulnerable.
Now the LSB is recommending that both will-writing and estate administration "and all ancillary legal activities" be reserved to qualified professionals, where a fee is charged.
However, these activities will not be reserved to the English legal profession alone.
Different types of providers will continue to be allowed to operate, though all will be regulated, says the LSB. Moreover, it says, the regulation of those already providing regulated advice will be improved as well.
Under the LSB plan, there will need to be appropriate consumer protections, including consumer access to redress, no matter who delivers the service.
Mandatory Regulation for Will Writers:
Under the proposals there will be a mandatory register of authorised providers, who must have financial protection arrangements, a code of conduct (including one governing sales practices), and appropriate staff training and supervision.
Punishments for transgressors will include fines.
The Government, hopefully, will decide on regulation and draft legislation prepared, after the consultation period ends in the Autumn.
If you are making your Will or having an Estate wound up, make doubly sure that the firm dealing with it is a firm of Solicitors specialising in Wills and Probate
If you do, then you will avoid the risk of some dodgy Will Writer of Cowboy Executor running off with all the money.