Will-writing and estate administration

We have completed investigating whether writing wills and administering estates should be subject to legal services regulation for the first time and whether probate activities should continue to be subject to legal services regulation.

Our main conclusions are:

  • Will-writing activities: we have recommended that the Lord Chancellor amends the list of reserved legal activities to include will-writing activities. Proportionate regulation will guarantee that all consumers have minimum safeguards whoever they buy will-writing services from and will increase competition by creating a level playing field for traditional law firms and new providers with different ways of delivering services to the public
  • Estate administration activities: we have not recommended that the Lord Chancellor amends the list of reserved legal activities to include estate administration activities. We considered carefully the reported risks in estate administration including fraud but have concluded that based on the available evidence that statutory regulation is not needed and would not be effective in preventing criminal behaviour. We are pursuing other initiatives to help consumers. This includes major providers working together to promote high standards and improving the information available to consumers to help them to choose providers with confidence and understand risks
  • Probate activities: Probate activities are currently subject to regulation and the LSB has concluded that we do not have evidence to warrant changing this.

The Lord Chancellor will now decide whether to take forward our recommendation to regulate will-writing activities. He will make his decision before 14 May 2013. If he accepts our recommendation implementation will be managed in a way that balances swift implementation in order to address the identified consumer detriment as soon as possible, and allowing sufficient time for the market to adapt so that consumers are not left without access to the services that they need.

As required of us by the Legal Services Act, we have published final reports for the investigations and given copies to the Lord Chancellor. The reports explain the conclusions that we have reached, why we have reached them and what they mean.

Reference documents:

Final documents:

September consultation documents and associated evidence:

April consultation documents:

Earlier related documents: