The Law Society was dealt a disappointing blow following the government's decision to continue to not regulate will writers. Last week's decision came after the Legal Services Board (LSB) advised the government to rectify the existing laws to help protect those seeking wills. However, the evidence provided by the LSB; which consisted of dishonesty, incompetence and general bad practice from unregulated will writers was not seen sufficient enough to bring change deemed necessary by the LSB.
It is thought this move could see unregulated will makers continue to leave grieving families at risk without important details such as the necessary safety net of an insurance system or they haven't carried out the wishes of the deceased properly.
Following the decision, a Law Society press release detailed their disappointment of the news. Desmond Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society said:
"Consumers have been let down by this deeply disappointing decision. We provided plenty of evidence to the LSB, demonstrating that consumers are at real risk from certain unregulated will writers who can be incompetent, untrained and uninsured.
"Thanks to the government's decision today, unregulated providers can carry on writing wholly unsuitable wills, leaving consumers without any recourse when things go wrong as a result.
"Until the government changes its mind on this, the only sensible choice for consumers is to have a solicitor to write your will, and to ensure a solicitor is chosen to administer the estate of your loved one. A solicitor is qualified and brings the comfort of an unrivalled regulatory and compensation system to put right any errors."
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) and its regulatory body ILEX Professional Standards (IPS) have also questioned the government's insistence on encouraging voluntary regulation after its previous failings. CILEx President Nick Hanning said: "The Government's suggestion of a voluntary code will not guarantee the protection consumers would get compared to making Will Writing a reserved activity. The result of this decision will be an uneven playing field between un-regulated companies and regulated professionals, such as CILEx members; and such a situation can only be contrary to the interests of the public."
Debbie Duggan, a Chartered Legal Executive, full member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and Head of the Private Client Department at BakerLaw in Farnham, echoes the sentiments of both Hanning and Hudson.
"The government's decision makes it even more important to ensure that clients use a qualified lawyer to have their Will created. This is an important event in any person's life - you are making sure your loved ones are protected if the worst should happen. Using a lawyer specialising in this area will ensure a client will receive the very best advice from someone who has undergone the highest training and keeps up to date with required continuous professional development (CPD).
"If something was to go wrong and you had a Will created by someone who wasn't regulated, you or your family have little or no recourse due to the frequent lack of insurance or compensation system put in place - something that is mandatory in the regulated environment.
Here's hoping the government will soon reassess their stance on this issue - something that could affect thousands of families across the UK.
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