Will-writing probe launched to protect consumersLegal Services Board to consider regulating wills

16 July 2011

A will

Will-writing services could be regulated

The Legal Services Board is to launch a formal investigation into will-writing services after a report from the Legal Services Consumer Panel highlighted problems in the market.

The Panel began looking into consumers’ experiences of will writing last summer following a request from the Legal Services Board and has now published its report recommending that will-writing services are regulated. There are currently no restrictions on who can draft wills.

It found that many wills written by both solicitors and unregulated will writers do not accurately reflect the intentions of the consumer.

Problems highlighted by the report include poor-quality wills, sales practices that put pressure on consumers and lack transparency, wills being lost by firms storing them and a minority of rogue players in the unregulated sector using aggressive sales tactics, overcharging and committing fraud.

The Panel commissioned mystery shopping as part of its research. One in five wills assessed by its experts failed to meet the standards set.

Which? wills research

Which? Money carried out its own mystery shopping into will writing last year looking specifically at whether the firms involved recommended naming them as an executor in the will. This can result in beneficiaries having to pay high fees unnecessarily for the will to be administered when the person who made the will dies.

We found that while solicitors generally did not do this, specialist will writers were less reliable in this area. Some banks made it a condition of their will-writing service that they were named as a sole or joint executor but they have now agreed to review their practices following intervention by the Office of Fair Trading earlier this year.

Visit our guide to writing a will for tips on writing your will or visit Which? Wills to make a will online.

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