Will the industry ever change?

31st Jan 2012
2011 - What a year for the Probate and Will industry. ...
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Will the industry ever change?

31st Jan 2012

2011 – What a year for the Probate and Will industry. It saw intense media scrutiny, a mystery shopping exercise, a Legal Services Board (LSB) report and a ‘call for evidence’ regarding the industry’s activities.

The need for regulation is being examined with serious intent. And importantly the consumer benefit of alternative non solicitor providers is now widely accepted.

But where does this leave us now, what is the fall out and what do you need to look out for?

2012 – We wait for the results of the LSB’s call for evidence to confirm whether they will make recommendations for regulatory protections. And we also have the Legal Services Act set to shake up the legal industry like never before.

Pavilion Row’s view is that the industry should be and will be regulated but while we wait here’s a check list to help ensure you get the right and best advice.

  • Make sure the appointed professional is a fully qualified member of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP). This is an absolute must. Not all solicitors are members of STEP and not all STEP members are solicitors
  • Check that the firm has professional indemnity insurance with a reputable firm
  • In a Will don’t appoint a professional executor unless you have written confirmation that they will stand down if requested
  • For probate, get confirmation of the fees and how they are calculatedRequest a fixed fee for probate. This will be possible in many cases but if not the firm should be able to explain why

At Pavilion Row all client advisors, will-drafters and probate administrators are qualified through STEP. We continue to offer a Will review service for anyone who is concerned.

Also, give us a call before committing to another provider. We are happy to give a quote and provide initial advice without charge.

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Will-Writing, STEP demands proper protection for consumers

29th Nov 2011
STEP has published a very helpful leaflet stating their views and position. ...
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Will-Writing, STEP demands proper protection for consumers

29th Nov 2011

In response to the ongoing investigating into the need to regulate will-writing and the associated fields of probate and estate administration STEP* has published a very helpful leaflet stating their views and position.

The leaflet outlines;

  • some of the current problems in the will-writing market
  • what STEP is doing to give consumers confidence they are dealing with well-qualified, reputable practitioners
  • how STEP plans to participate in future regulatory initiatives

An extract taken from the leaflet, which is titled ‘Building Consumer-Confidence in Will Writing’, states:

“Inevitably, the process of putting effective regulation in place for the will-writing and estate administration markets will take some time. In the meanwhile, the legal services market continues to change rapidly, not least with the arrival of alternative business structures widening the options for how legal services providers can be owned and potentially opening the way for an array of new entrants into the marketplace. STEP therefore decided early on that it needed to take measures to reassure consumers using STEP Members that they were dealing with practitioners with both proven standards of technical competence and a commitment to a strong professional code of conduct.”

The full leaflet can be found on http://www.step.org/pdf/WillWriting_WEB.pdf

At Pavilion Row all our client advisers, will drafters and probate administrators are qualified through STEP. We also follow and are committed to STEP’s professional code of conduct.

*STEP (The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) is the worldwide professional body for practitioners in the fields of trusts and estates, executorship, administration and related issues.

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IFP Financial Planning Week 2011

22nd Nov 2011
Financial Planning Week aims to raise awareness of how important financial planning is. ...
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IFP Financial Planning Week 2011

22nd Nov 2011

This week is Financial Planning Week which is run by the Institute of Financial Planners as a consumer awareness campaign to help you take simple steps to improve your financial “fitness”.

Its aim is to raise awareness of how important financial planning is. Making smart financial decisions to help achieve your goals and dreams in life is the first step towards taking control and gaining valuable peace of mind.

One such important financial decision is making a will.

If you do not have a will consider;

  • Who is going to inherit when you die? Your partner or husband/wife does not automatically get everything.
  • What age do you want your children to inherit? Without a will they will get everything at the age of just 18!
  • Who is going to look after your children? Without a will it might be the courts who decide?

For more information on making a will read our helpful guide ‘Why make a will’

If you have already taken the step to make a will consider;

  • When did you last review your will? It is recommended that you check it every 3-5 years to ensure it remains relevant.
  • Have your circumstances changed since making your last will? Having already made a will changing it to be appropriate for your current circumstances will be a much easier decision.
  • Do you have a professional executor, e.g. solicitor or bank, appointed in your will? If so, do you have confirmation in writing that they will stand down if requested by all beneficiaries. If not, did you know that you risk tying your beneficiaries to them and paying their professional fees.

Making a will gives you the peace of mind that everything is in order should the worse happen.

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Pavilion Row Responds to LSB’s Call for Evidence

7th Nov 2011
Pavilion Row fully support the need for regulation. ...
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Pavilion Row Responds to LSB’s Call for Evidence

7th Nov 2011

Earlier this year the Legal Services Board (LSB) published a report that recommended the regulation of will-writing services. The report also suggested the need to investigate the associated area of probate and estate administration work.

Recently they issued a call for evidence asking for feedback to help determine whether recommendations for regulatory protections should be made to the Lord Chancellor.

Pavilion Row fully support the need for regulation and have responded to the LSB’s call for evidence suggesting that it should include;

  • Improved information and knowledge for the consumer by provision of key fact documents that clearly explain the product or service that they are entering into
  • When a professional executor is appointed in a will it must be mandatory that the professional renounces his/her position if beneficiaries are in agreement
  • Fees quoted must be transparent allowing for easy comparison with other providers
  • For estate administration work the invoices must be sufficiently detailed so that the fees can be easily understood and queried if appropriate
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On the Spot with Angus Houston

11th Oct 2011
The Yorkshire Post's 'On the Spot' is profiling Angus this week. ...
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On the Spot with Angus Houston

11th Oct 2011

The Yorkshire Post’s ‘On the Spot’ is profiling Angus this week

Article taken from Yorkshire Post, Tuesday 11th October, http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/business/people-and-careers/on_the_spot_with_angus_houston_1_3858631

Angus Houston is managing director of will and probate service Pavilion Row, based in York.
What was your first job?
Farm labourer during the harvest season.
If not in your present job, what would you like to do?
Food and wine critic for Egon Ronay.
What was your worst mistake?
Allowing redundancy to affect my confidence – it’s business not personal, so move on.
What would be your ideal day away from the office?
Lunch at the Feversham Arms, Helmsley. The hotel where my wife and I were married.
Name the one person you would most like to have dinner with?
Putting my allegiance to Leeds United firmly to one side, Alex Ferguson. I admire his continued focus, drive and man-management skills.
What was your best subject at school?
Can’t remember…probably economics and not the ‘home’ variety (see next answer).
What are your hobbies?
I love to cook but I am clearly not as good as I think I am. My wife keeps booking me onto cookery courses.
What would you do if you won the Lotto?
Holiday homes in Scotland and Italy, a year travelling the world going to all the Formula One Grand Prix events and then invest in other young businesses to help them grow.
What is your top time-saving tip?
Concentrate on what you are good at and outsource the rest.
What is your favourite time of the day?
At home with a glass of wine relaxing after a long day.
What is your favourite garment?
My kilt in the family tartan – timeless , comfy and smart.
What is the best thing about being in Yorkshire?
It’s okay to be thrifty.
What would your epitaph be?
Moving On.

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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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