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Will writing, probate and estate administration

The Consumer Panel carried out a major investigation into whether will-writing should be regulated, following concerns over the quality of wills and poor sales practices. We issued a call for evidence and commissioned an independent consumer research report in partnership with the Legal Services Board, the Office of Fair Trading and the Solicitors Regulation Authority. This included a mystery shopping exercise to assess the quality of wills. The Panel's final report uncovered defective wills on a shocking scale and evidence of bad sales practices. We therefore recommended that will-writing services should be regulated.


Following our recommendation, the Legal Services Board announced a statutory investigation into the regulation of will-writing and expanded this to also consider the case for regulating probate and estate administration services. In November 2011, the Panel submitted an interim response based on an analysis of probate complaints received by the Legal Ombudsman. In March 2012, our final response to the Legal Services Board called for probate and estate administration services to be regulated alongside will-writing.


In April 2012, the Legal Services Board consulted on proposals to regulate all three activities. Following the consultation, the LSB recommended to the Lord Chancellor that will-writing should be added to the list of reserved legal activities, although not estate administration. Further information can be found on the LSB's website.

In May 2013 the Lord Chancellor decided not to regulate will-writing services. The Panel is extremely disappointed by this decision, which is terrible news for consumers. Given the sheer weight of evidence of consumer detriment and the wide consensus backing regulation we consider this decision makes no sense. Looking forward, we will do what we can to make self-regulation succeed, including by working with the Legal Ombudsman to switch on its voluntary jurisdiction.

Key documents

Date Title Description
14 May 2013 Reaction to Lord Chancellor's decision not to regulate will-writing (pdf, 54kb) The Panel's response to the decision not to regulate will-writing
15 February 2013 Letter to the LSB on will-writing, estate administration and probate (pdf, 90kb) The Panel's response to the LSB's executive working paper on will-writing, estate administration and probate
13 February 2013 Reaction to LSB decision on will-writing and estate administration (pdf, 73kb) The Panel's reaction to the LSB's decision on will-writing and estate administration
27 September 2012 Panel calls on sector to unite behind LSB's will-writing plans (pdf, 84kb) Press release welcoming the announcement by the Legal Services Board that it plans to recommend adding will-writing and estate administration to the list of reserved activities
22 June 2012 Panel responds to LSB will-writing consultation (pdf, 76kb) Response to the LSB consultation on the regulation of will-writing, probate and estate administration services
19 March 2012 Probate and estate administration (pdf, 381kb) Final response to the Legal Services Board's call for evidence on will-writing, probate and estate administration
1 November 2011 LSB - Call for evidence on will-writing, probate and estate edministration (pdf, 246kb) Interim response to the Legal Services Board's call for evidence on will-writing, probate and estate administration
14 July 2011 Regulating will-writing (pdf, 803kb) The Consumer Panel's report to the Legal Services Board on will-writing.
14 July 2011 Understanding the consumer experience of will writing [pdf, external link] IFF's independent research report exploring the consumer experience of will-writing services, applying shadow shopping techniques to analyse the quality of wills produced.
23 December 2010 Will writing submissions (link to new page) Case studies and submissions received by the Legal Services Consumer Panel in response to its call for evidence on will writing.
22 September 2010 Will writing - call for evidence (pdf, 143kb) Call for evidence on will writing from members of the public, lawyers and organisations
9 September 2010 Commissioning letter from LSB (pdf, 628kb) Letter from the Legal Services Board requesting that the Panel investigate will writing