Ripped off by will writers
The Legal Ombudsman has issued a damning report looking at the unregulated will writing sector, claiming thousands of people are being ripped off by those offering unregulated legal services.
Under current rules in England, some legal services must be provided by a regulated firm.
Many other legal services, including will writing, can be conducted by any individual without the need for regulation. It is this approach which risks putting consumers at risk of poor advice.
By taking advice from any unregulated firm, you are placed outside of the regulatory protection system. For example, the new Legal Ombudsman can only act on complaints in respect of regulated solicitors.
Whenever you seek professional advice, it is essential you know where you can turn for help in the event of things going wrong.
In terms of financial advice, this means only ever seeking advice from a firm which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
By doing this, you can refer unsettled complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service and claim compensation from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, should there be a bad outcome. You also ensure that the firm with which you are dealing holds Professional Indemnity insurance.
In the area of legal services, unregulated firms are often uninsured and do not provide a compensation fund or coverage by the Legal Ombudsman’s scheme.
Dealing with unregulated firms, such as some will writers, is a really bad idea when it comes to something as important as estate planning. Often the issues created by dealing with an unregulated will writer do not become apparent until after the death of the customer, causing complex and expensive issues to resolve.
The Ministry of Justice has responded to the report from the Legal Ombudsman, acknowledging the importance of will writing and saying they will await the outcome of ongoing work by the Legal Services Board.
Photo credit: Flickr/redwood 1