The IPW has welcomed last month’s report by the Legal Services Board to
recommend that will-writing and estate administration services in England and
Wales should be regulated. The recommendation follows a 9 month investigation
into the provision of will-writing and estate administration services and
mirrors the conclusion reached by the Legal Services Consumer Panel when they
investigated the area in 2011.
For over 20 years the IPW has campaigned for the provision of
Willwriting services to be regulated and during that time it has consistently
led the way in setting the highest standards for its members, both in terms of
technical competence and customer service. This was endorsed when in 2010 the
IPW became only the tenth organisation, and the only one in the legal sector,
to have a Code of Practice approved by the Office of Fair Trading under its
Consumer Code Approval Scheme.
For some time the government has acknowledged that there have been
issues in the will-writing sector, ranging from high pressure selling to poorly
drafted Wills but has asked for hard evidence of detriment to consumers before
taking action. Evidence has been difficult to provide because making a Will is
an occasional event that makes it difficult for buyers to measure and quantify
the quality of the product and service that they receive. As the report points
out, many problems with Wills don’t surface until after death –when it’s too
late to find out whether the Will was up to the job intended and it’s often
difficult and /or expensive to carry out corrective work.
IPW Chairman, Paul Sharpe said
“Making a Will is a vital act that too many people never get around to
doing. It is scandalous that so many of those that do run the risk of being
duped by high pressure sales tactics, inappropriate advice or incorrect
documents. We are grateful to the Legal Services Board for this report which is
a significant step towards making a Will a much less risky process.
It is encouraging that the LSB has identified so many of the IPW’s
membership requirements in its recommendations for a regulatory regime,
including gateway checks, financial protection of consumer money, professional
indemnity insurance, appropriate training, compliance and monitoring checks.
In 2010 the Scottish Government announced that it was to regulate
Willwriting services in Scotland and ahead of that decision the Institute of
Scottish Professional Willwriters was formed to apply to be a regulator of
will-writing services in Scotland. The IPW has every intention of applying to
be a regulator of will-writing services in England and Wales at the appropriate