Regional backing for will-writing petition

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A PETITION which calls on the Government to reverse its decision not to regulate will writing is being backed by a Yorkshire law firm.

The petition is being supported by Joanne Liversidge, a member of the professional body, Solicitors for The Elderly, who works in York for Lupton Fawcett Denison Till.

Many solicitors involved with will writing and estate administration believe they should be ‘reserved activities’ carried out by authorised practitioners regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The e-petition, launched by solicitor Ken McRae, of Hatchers Solicitors, based in Shrewsbury and Whitchurch, currently has 1,353 supporters but needs to get at least 10,000 signatures in order to get a Government response.

Ms Liversidge said: “Will writing and estate administration are among legal disciplines which have been under attack from the ‘Tesco law’ approach to legal services with its generalised, one-size-fits-all attitude to carrying out clients’ instructions. This has been particularly true during the tough financial climate of the last five years when more people have been motivated to protect their wealth and their family’s inheritance by making a will. However, most people will not be able to distinguish between an unregulated and a regulated lawyer.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “When people write a will it is extremely important for them to have peace of mind that their affairs will be dealt with how they want them to be. That is why we have agreed with the Legal Services Board that there is room for improvement in this area.

“However, we are not convinced that regulation is the best way forward – we believe other options should be explored first, including better guidance for professionals and making better use of existing consumer information and protection.”