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Friday, 15 February 2013

Good will hunting!

It comes as a surprise to some that not all legal work has to be done by lawyers. In fact a huge amount of very good work is done by those working in welfare rights centres, Trade Unions etc.

There are areas of work that do have to be done by qualified lawyers such as handling litigation, conveyancing property and advocacy in most courts. These are known as reserved activities.

One bizarre exception to all this has been will writing. This is an unreserved activity which means that anybody can do it and it is currently unregulated. As an unregulated activity it means that there is no requirement for those writing wills to have indemnity insurance, so if they make a major mistake which costs beneficiaries thousands of pounds there might be no recourse if they have no insurance and no money to pay a claim. There is no access to the Legal Services Ombudsman in case of poor service

Making a will is one of the most important documents that a person will ever make. It will govern what happens to all that we have once we are gone.

Solicitors have long campaigned for will writing to become regulated. Indeed I blogged on this very topic last year when noises were being made about regulation –

The Legal Services Board has, this week, finally recommended to the government that this be changed –

This means that if the government accept the advice then there will be far greater protection for consumers.  The Minister of Justice has 90 days to decide whether to implement the advice so it is likely to be a year or so before we see any change.But the sooner the better.

Of course the safest thing to do is instruct a solicitor. Now I would say that wouldn’t I?! But in fact it is the best way to ensure that a professional and experienced person deals with the drafting of such an important document. It also means that there is the full backing of professional regulation and insurance!

Which reminds me - I really do need to make one myself!!

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