Government Refuses To Regulate Will Writing

 In Gill's Blog

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Gill SteelTo-day I am sad to report that the Minister of Justice, Chris Grayling, has refused to accept the Legal Services Board recommendation to regulate Will writing –

It is hard to appreciate the kind of evidence which the Minister believes is required to justify the regulation of this most fundamental of legal services. I suspect that it is yet further evidence of the lack of appreciation of the role the legal profession plays in providing services which are in the best interest of the client and not themselves; as opposed to Bankers and supermarkets who supply services in the interests of their shareholders whether or not it is what the consumer requires, as we have seen with the mis-selling scandals.

I wonder if the Minister and his staff have experienced any of the mischiefs which the regulation of Will writing was aimed at avoiding – a parent perhaps who makes a Will which is invalid because the Will writer did not supervise the execution properly; an elderly relative who is encouraged to purchase (through fear of paying IHT or care home fees) a huge bundle of documents on the back of writing the Will bundled up in one enormous fee for many thousands of pounds, whether relevant or not; or the unsuspecting and naïve friend who meets the uninsured and unregulated Will writer selling his wares at the entrance to a supermarket and is provided with a poorly drafted disaster of a Will which invites family disputes later.

Whilst it was pointed out in the review leading up to the Legal Services Board recommendation to regulate that Wills drafted by solicitors were also poorly drafted it did not suggest that members of the profession were uninsured nor indeed unregulated. The Government’s view that existing voluntary schemes have not been allowed to mature and can still provide sufficient protection to consumers underlines the irony of making the consumer king, as successive governments have done, only to decide now that sales is what really counts and the consumer is not king at all. Instead, caveat emptor applies and if you are elderly, vulnerable or naïve the government is not going to keep your best interests at heart. It wants to create jobs and so apparently encourages anyone to set up a Will writing business – there is, after all, currently no barrier of ‘red tape’ to prevent this. So much better.

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Gill Steel

14 May 2013

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