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Will writing - will it become a reserved legal activity?

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has recently published its final report on will writing, estate administration and probate activities.

"Will writing activities" include providing advice and assistance in relation to the preparation of a Will or codicil. "Estate administration activities" include administering an estate. "Probate activities" include preparing any papers in relation to obtaining or opposing a grant of probate or letters of administration.

A list of reserved activities exists which can only be undertaken by entities and individuals that have been authorised (and regulated) by an approved legal services regulator. In July 2011 the LSB began three investigations to enable it to form a view on whether or not it should recommend that the list of reserved activities should be amended. At present the list does not include will writing or estate administration but does include probate activities.

The following recommendations have been made by the LSB:

Will writing activities

The current list of reserved activities should be amended to include will writing. It is further recommended that will writing activities should include:

  1. the preparation and drafting of any will or codicil and any subsequent amendments
  2. the provision of advice relating to the preparation of a will or codicil and any subsequent amendments
  3. the provision of advice in relation to the execution of a will or codicil and overseeing the same

Estate administration activities

The current list of reserved activities should not be amended to include estate administration activities.

Probate activities

Probate activities should remain on the list of reserved activities.

The Lord Chancellor now has 90 days (from the date of receiving the report) to decided whether or not to accept the LSB's recommendations and publish notice of that decision.

Jon Gould, Associate in the Private Client team at DWF, comments "The debate concerning reserved legal activities is an important one and it is a welcome recommendation that will writing is added to the list of reserved activities. All three activities can be complex and it is, therefore, important that they are carried out by those with the correct level of expertise and experience. The Private Client Team at DWF have significant expertise in all three activities and regularly advise clients in such areas. We are members of STEP (The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) and Solicitors for the Elderly".