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York lawyer backs call for government to reverse will writing decision

An e-petition urging the Government to reverse its decision not to regulate will writing is being backed by a York law firm.

The e-petition, started by a Shropshire solicitor after a shock decision earlier this year by lord chancellor, Chris Grayling, not to regulate will writing and estate administration, is being supported by Joanne Liversidge, an assistant solicitor in the Private Client Department at Lupton Fawcett Denison Till.

Many solicitors involved with will writing and estate administration claim they should be ‘reserved activities’ carried out only by authorised practitioners regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority but representations by professional body, the Legal Services Board, to Chris Grayling were rejected even though observers expected him to rubber stamp the request.

The e-petition, launched by solicitor Ken McRae, of Hatchers Solicitors, Shrewsbury and Whitchurch, currently has 1,353 supporters but needs to get at least 10,000 signatories in order to get a Government response.

Joanne Liversidge, a member of professional body, Solicitors for The Elderly said: “Will writing and estate administration are among legal disciplines which have been under attack from the ‘Tesco law’ approach to legal services with its generalised, one-size-fits-all attitude to carrying out clients instructions.

This has been particularly true during the tough financial climate of the last five years when more people have been motivated to protect their wealth and their family’s inheritance by making a will.

“However most people will not be able to distinguish between an unregulated and a regulated lawyer and the inherent dangers in having a will written by someone who is not a specialist or covered by the demands and protection of being regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

“For example, a will drawn up by an unregulated lawyer may never be traced if the will writer or their business disappears while a will written by a regulated lawyer will always be traced and produced by Solicitors Regulation authority even decades later. This is crucial as the legal sector is going through a period of rapid change with many law firms closing or merging.

“Will writing requires a detailed, holistic approach and cannot be carried out by pro forma as the risk is too great for the clients involved and I hope this crucial petition gains support in the North.”

Lupton Fawcett Denison Till was created on December 1 with merger between Yorkshire law firm, Lupton Fawcett Lee & Priestley, which has offices in Leeds and Sheffield and Denison Till, Piccadilly, York, which was founded in 1965.

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