Following recent calls to make Will writing, probate and estate administration reserved legal activities, last week has seen the first Will writer granted an alternative business structure (ABS) licence.
Parchment Law Group became the seventh licenced ABS. Valerie Shiman said she has been in favour of regulating Will writers since she launched her business in 1989 and she hopes that others will soon follow suit.
Ms Shiman was a founder member and later president of the Institute of Professional Will writers, and she has always believed that the sector should be regulated. She said she did not want to wait for the Legal Services Board to make their final decision in order to embrace regulation and so she has gone into partnership with a solicitor to become an ABS.
“It just gives us a great opportunity to do what I always wanted to do and offer more services, particularly reserved services.”
“I’m hoping a lot of good [Will writers] follow suit and that we will be a role model. This is a huge opportunity to step up a level.”
Until now Ms Shiman has had to outsource work to solicitors, which brought with it risks around losing clients and quality of work. The company now offers a range of legal services in addition to Will writing, advising on Will trusts and Inheritance Tax planning, Lasting Powers of Attorney, elderly client matters etc, enabling them to keep work in house.
So, Valerie Shiman is the first Will writer to officially welcome regulation and embrace the new opportunities that this may bring. Is she the first of many?
As stressed by the Legal Services Board, a well-regulated sector not only protects the consumer but can also increase confidence, competition and choice. The final report is due to be published towards the end of this year, following further consultation over the summer. Watch this space.