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Will writing - the battle for regulation...

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The question over whether will writers in England and Wales should be regulated or not has surfaced once again, this time with the force of The Law Society fuelling the campaign to ensure that only competent and appropriate individuals may hold themselves out as will writers. As the law stands at present, anyone can operate as a will writer. No formal qualifications are required; individuals do not have to have undertaken any form of training and thus in many cases they do not afford the consumer the appropriate protection that is necessary. Excessive fees, exploitation, poorly drafted wills and thus costly mistakes, both financial and emotional, are all common consequences of a service that the consumer originally thought attractive, cheap and efficient. This lack of adequate protection not only undermines the possibilities of seeking redress, but further, establishes no system to prevent the same mistakes from reoccurring. Very often these problems are not discovered until the individual has died, resulting in the bereaved trying to seek redress at what is already a difficult and stressful time. So, the crucial issue remains…should writing a will become a reserved legal activity? The Law Society believes that it is in the wider public and consumer interest for will writers to adhere to an effective regulatory regime which works to protect the consumer and offers clear, expert and reliable advice. Certainty, confidence and peace of mind that you have created a will which is expressed in a way that is legally watertight and subsequently stored in a safe place is of fundamental importance as you make crucial financial and personal decisions affecting both your life and those that you leave behind. The knowledge that solicitors are all trained and regulated, with adequate insurance to protect the public may help to alleviate the concern that you are paying more for such a service and thus reducing the risk of exposure to the unacceptable consequences that have occurred to many people who have used a non-lawyer to write their will. As with any campaign there are those who consider that the ability to write a will should be available to all. Given the consequences that have thus far been exposed, consider this… Yes, there is a cost involved in using a solicitor. But what you're paying for is both a source of significant expertise and, in effect, a form of insurance cover… As the campaign picks up pace and receives strong support for regulation of this sector The Law Society will continue to lobby the Lord Chancellor for change on this issue. - For additional information or comment please contact: Danny Carter of Gepp & Sons. This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.