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Probate and estate administration should be regulated

Probate and estate administration should be regulated

The Legal Services Consumer Panel has called for probate and estate administration services in England and Wales to be regulated and made reserved activities.

The Consumer Panel has suggested that the proposed regulatory regime for probate and estate administration services should include suitability checks on individuals, including criminal records and bankruptcy checks; measures to ensure financial protection for consumers; and a system of complaint to the legal ombudsman.

The panel suggests that regulation in this area would protect consumers from the risk of fraud and offer redress against poor service and over-charging.

Responding to the Consumer Panel’s call, Law Society President John Wotton said: “We welcome this proposal and are pleased that the Consumer Panel share our concerns about this. Their report highlights Law Society concerns that there is currently no regulation or monitoring in place to ensure that administrators do not misappropriate the estate’s assets.

“All solicitors are subject to strict regulation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to ensure that they deliver the best service to their clients. Solicitors are required to have insurance, which protects the public, while the Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, also provides a compensation fund if things go wrong. Choosing a solicitor ensures a high level of service and expertise plus guaranteed consumer protection. Regulation in the area of probate and estate administration services will only be effective if it is of a similar standard to that already imposed on solicitors.”

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