Categories: Better Business
The Legal Services Consumer Panel has called for will-writing services to be regulated after saying it was "shocked" by the poor quality of some wills uncovered in a mystery shopping exercise.
Currently, there are no restrictions on who may draft wills for consumers for payment.
Under the Panel's proposals, all providers would have to demonstrate they are competent to write wills, follow a code of conduct and allow complaints to the Legal Ombudsman.
Its report found evidence of "poor quality wills, sharp sales practices and lost wills where companies disappear without trace".
Worryingly, about one in every five wills prepared by both unregulated will-writing companies and solicitors were failed by expert assessors in a mystery shopping exercise.
The report calls for training standards for solicitors to be raised and for the Office of Fair Trading to lead an enforcement campaign targeted at the minority of will-writing companies responsible for the worst sales practices such as pressure selling and exorbitant prices.
Dr Dianne Hayter, chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, said: "A will may have huge personal and financial consequences for those who we care about most.
"It's vital that advisers do a competent job, especially since any defects are unlikely to be discovered until it's too late to fix them.
"The Panel was shocked by the poor quality of wills in the mystery shopping. Although the sample was small, will-writing companies and solicitors were equally culpable, pointing to the need for tighter controls across the sector.
"Only by requiring all providers to be regulated and to demonstrate their competence can consumers enjoy peace of mind that their final wishes will be respected whoever prepares their will.
"Most people were happy with the service they got from will-writers, but there is evidence that a rogue minority is pressuring people to buy services they do not need and charging excessive prices.
"The Panel calls on the OFT to coordinate enforcement action with trading standards against these firms."
|Comment||Undercover probe into will writing finds 'shocking' practices|
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