Calls for regulation of probate and administration of estates

The Legal Services Consumer Panel (LSCP) has provided its recommendations in relation to the probate and administration of estates sector. The report has recommended that such work be regulated alongside Will writing, for which it called for regulation last year.

The report, which is addressed to the Legal Services Board, highlights a number of areas of concern. These include the high risk of fraudulent activity within the market, service failures in respect of delays and poor communication and potentially high costs.

In putting forward the case for regulation the report states “The main reasons why probate and estate administration should be regulated are the risk of fraud and the severity of detriment that can result from overcharging and poor service. The detriment can involve large sums of money, but there also some very human consequences – stress, ill health and fractured personal relationships – which are difficult to repair.”

It continues “This activity is also unusual in that the provider’s actions can harm multiple individuals who, since they are not the lawyer’s clients, have little power to control events. Often the persons affected will be elderly, but even the most confident individuals will be at their most vulnerable when grieving for a loved one. In this situation, people are more likely to make poor purchase decisions and find it more difficult to deal effectively with bad service.”

The proposed system of regulation includes checks on individuals (including bankruptcy and criminal record checks), financial protection for consumers and redress for complaints by reference to the legal ombudsman.