Is the Law Society missing the point and misleading the consumer?

3rd Oct 2011
The Law Society has been running a 'Choose quality advice' campaign. ...
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Is the Law Society missing the point and misleading the consumer?

3rd Oct 2011

Over the last month the Law Society has been running a ‘Choose quality advice – your solicitor qualified to help’ campaign. But are they missing the point and misleading the consumer in some areas of law?

It states that we should use a specialist and be prepared to shop around – but isn’t this the case for most services.

It mentions that if the customer has a complaint regarding a solicitor they can go to the legal ombudsman while if they go to an unregulated legal service provider, such as a non-solicitor will writer, they don’t have the same recourse. Yes, this is true and the reason why it is now accepted that will-writing will become regulated sooner rather than later. Regulation is already happening in Scotland.

The campaign further states that all solicitors must hold a practising certificate issued by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). This “guarantees” that the solicitor is qualified to practise: herein lies the problem, qualified in What? A practising certificate confirms they have completed their solicitor training but it does not guarantee specialist knowledge in each and every area of law.

In fact in an area such as probate and wills there is no longer a mandatory examination. A solicitor can practice without their knowledge being tested.

This lack of knowledge and education in the field of will-writing is highlighted in a recent report by the Legal Services Board (LSB). The report published the results of their investigation into will-writing which found one in four of the wills examined to be inadequate. That is 25% of the wills written. It further states that “the same proportion of wills prepared by solicitors and will-writing companies were failed”.

The issue with training and education is further highlighted by a recent letter in the Law Society’s own Gazette. The letter is entitled “Legal training falls short on will drafting”.

In the area of probate and wills ‘properly’ qualified advisers are members of the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners (STEP) recognised by the letters TEP after their name. Not all solicitors offering probate and will services are members of STEP. And furthermore not all members of STEP, i.e. those with the specialist knowledge in this field, are solicitors.

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Pavilion Row backs the findings of the will-writing investigation run by the Legal Services Board

9th Aug 2011
Pavilion Row has always supported regulation. ...
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Pavilion Row backs the findings of the will-writing investigation run by the Legal Services Board

9th Aug 2011

The will-writing industry has commanded a lot of press attention over the last few weeks. This is a result of a report published by the Legal Services Board Consumer Panel recommending that the industry should be regulated.

A key concern arising from the report was the poor technical quality of the wills. One in four of wills examined by the panel were found to be inadequate. It states “the same proportion of wills prepared by solicitors and will-writing companies were failed”.

Angus Houston TEP, Pavilion Row Ltd states that “The report demonstrates the strong need to standardise the level of qualification a professional needs to provide will services. This is something that I have advocated for some time.”

Will-writing forms part of the specialist area of trust and estate planning. Currently the only professional body in this field is the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and true specialists in this area are members of STEP. Full members of STEP can be identified by ‘TEP’ after their name.

STEP has also recently launched an industry recognised exam for will writers providing a benchmark qualification in this area of law.

When looking for somebody to advise on and prepare your will Pavilion Row recommends that you use only a full member of STEP or somebody who has passed the STEP will preparation exam. A professional with these qualifications will be able to provide a copy of the STEP certification if requested.

Pavilion Row’s objective has always been to provide best advice to our clients therefore all our will consultants are STEP members or have passed the STEP will preparation exam.

-Ends-

For more information please contact Angus Houston, CEO Pavilion Row on 0845 634 4185

Note to Editors

1. Pavilion Row are specialists in the field of probate and wills. We provide probate and will administration services to professional introducers including solicitors, accountants and other financial professionals. For more information about Pavilion Row Ltd see www.pavilionrow.com.

2. The Legal Services Consumer Panel full report on regulating will-writing can be found on; http://www.legalservicesconsumerpanel.org.uk/publications/research_and_reports/index.html

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York firm proves funding is available

12th Jul 2011
Pavilion Row is proving to regional businesses that funding streams are available for business improvement. ...
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York firm proves funding is available

12th Jul 2011

A York-based probate and wills service is proving to other businesses across the region that funding streams are still available for business improvement.

Pavilion Row, established twelve months ago by MD Angus Houston, has recently accessed funding support from the Skills Funding Agency in conjunction with Leeds-based business consultancy Strategy to Succeed Ltd.

Angus explained: “I think this proves that it’s not all doom and gloom on the funding front and there are still resources available to assist businesses.

“We carry out probate administration which some see as a legal process but we view very much as an area of administration supported by effective management.

“The process mapping we are undertaking with Strategy to Succeed Ltd will make our approach to managing staff skills far more effective and focused and determine what roles can be carried out and by whom.

“The funding from the SFA has proved invaluable,” added Angus who has a management background within large scale outsourcing firms. He qualified in 2009 with STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practioners) and sits on their regional committee.

Strategy to Succeed Ltd, established in 2010, is a business consultancy that utilises a network of skilled associates to deliver a comprehensive range of strategic and operational business development solutions.

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Angus Houston, TEP has been re-elected onto the STEP committee

30th Jun 2011
STEP is the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. ...
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Angus Houston, TEP has been re-elected onto the STEP committee

30th Jun 2011

We are delighted to announce that Angus Houston, TEP has been re-elected onto the STEP regional committee for a 2nd term.

STEP is the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and members are recognised by TEP after their name. Through education and training they promote the highest professional standards in the area of trust and estate planning.

As well as the regional committee Angus also sat on the STEP committee that was instrumental in STEP launching an industry recognised exam for will writers.

Angus says “I am delighted to be re-elected onto the committee as STEP provides a crucial role in ensuring the quality of expertise in this area of law.”

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