The government has decided not to make Will writing a reserved legal activity, as proposed by the Legal Services Board (LSB).
In a written request submitted in February to Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling, the LSB asked the government to take up Will writing regulation (discussed further in the article “LSB calls for regulation of Will writing”), saying that a two year investigation had revealed a "compelling case" for regulatory supervision of the industry. The LSB recommended expanding the list of reserved activities by adding Will writing, insisting that it had uncovered strong evidence that many people get unsatisfactory services from Will writing specialists. The organisation, which was supported in its call by several groups, including the Law Society, stated that poor service had led to financial losses and "emotional harm" among clients of Will writers.
In mid-May, however, Grayling rejected the proposal. This is despite the fact that a great number of providers who deliver other legal activities that are reserved, offer Will services. The LSB has estimated that solicitors generate over £1bn a year from Will writing.
In response to the decision, Chairman of the LSB, David Edmonds, said “Naturally we are disappointed by the Government’s decision... We will study the details and respond in due course. In the mean time the LSB will work with Ministry of Justice officials, consumer groups, providers and other stakeholders to ensure that the issues are tackled and that consumer confidence in the market for Will writing services is increased. The onus is now on both regulated and unregulated providers of Will writing services to improve standards and thereby earn consumer and public confidence.”
Our regulator, the CLC, have expressed their disappointment at the Lord Chancellor's decision not to reserve Will writing. The Law Society also described the decision as a "deeply disappointing" move that "let down" consumers. In his 'Decision Notice', Grayling accepted the fact that there is evidence of consumer detriment in the Will writing market and that reservation could address this issue. However, he says his decision against reservation at this stage stems from the fact that the LSB has not demonstrated adequate research into alternative measures and proven that reservation is the best solution.
The Law Society say they are launching a new Wills and Inheritance Accreditation Scheme later this year, intended to set minimum practice standards for solicitors providing Will writing and probate services. It is worth noting that the majority of Will writers already abide by similar codes of practice through membership to professional bodies such as the Institute of Professional Will writers (IPW) and Society of Will writers (SWW). In fact, a recent customer survey from the IPW of over 2,300 customers shows that over 99% highly rated the service they received from their Will writer and would recommend them to a friend or relative.
Kings Court Trust is dedicated to offering the highest standards of customer care through regulation. We are also committed to finding new ways to better support our Will writing partners and help them to maintain consistently high standards.
If you have any questions or comments for us following this news, we'd be happy to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.