Estate and will services set for reserved legal activity status

MAKING ESTATE ADMINISTRATION and will-writing services reserved legal activities has moved a step closer to reality.

The Legal Services Board, following consultation, has said it is “minded” to make the core will-writing and estate administration services reserved – and has launched another consultation with further details of its plans. As such, advisors providing those services would need to be regulated by an approved body.

The board is pushing for the move to protect consumers, who it believes require better protection against unregulated services providers.

While it recommends that tax advice relating to the preparation of the will would be a reserved service, it also says in the latest consultation that “we do not intend for the proposed reservation of will-writing to bring service providers that do not write wills within the scope of legal services regulation”.

The provision of inheritance tax advice won’t be caught within the reservations unless provided in conjunction with the core reserved activities of will-writing and estate management.

The consultation contains an example in which an accountant provides advice about distributing a client’s estate on his death, and what needs to be contained in the client’s will. As no will is written on this occasion, the service provided does not come under the proposed new reservations.

Commenting on the latest developments, the ICAEW said: “We appreciate that such a step which could potentially impact ICAEW chartered accountants working in practice who already provide estate administration services. Like the vast majority of professions who offer similar services, they act with integrity and in the best interests of their clients.

“Critical to us is ensuring that they can continue to do so and we will work to ensure that we have in place a regulatory solution that will enable our members to continue to offer these services to their clients.”

The institute has been consulting on its plan to become a licensed regulator so its members can offer probate services and set up multi-disciplinary practices.

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