Posted: Sunday, 6 March 2016 @ 08:04
Some interesting information on overall quality on wills
and probate done by the Legal Ombudsman.
According to the Legal Ombudsman, wills and probate
accounted for around 13% of the complaints they resolved last year, making it
the third highest source of complaints by area of law.
That is high.
The LO goes on “The
evidence therefore indicates that the sector is suffering from a number of
quality issues. 18% of complaints in this area are about unclear or excessive
costs. Often these can be complaints from beneficiaries who were not clients of
the firm undertaking the work. If they were the clients they would have some
say over the costs of the work undertaken; but as a beneficiary their rights
are limited and this can cause disputes.
It is also not
unusual for an estate administration to take longer to complete than was
originally anticipated or to find that there are unexpected problems, which can
in turn mean that costs spiral upwards. However, the LO would expect clients to
be made aware of any increase in costs as and when they occur.
The report goes on to conclude a remedy was required in
around 72% of the wills and probate related complaints they dealt with last
year. “This shows that service providers
are failing to meet the expectations of clients and beneficiaries far too
frequently. As we have seen, representative bodies are advocating the superior
service standards of regulated providers over lay or unreserved providers, but
clearly many of their members are not living up to the hype.”
In my capacity as an advisor for Which? and with my own
clients who come to me a frequent complaint about some solicitors(particularly
executors) is slow service and lack of clarity on legal costs. The LO merely
echoes what is happening on the ground.
However, one of the key benefits of using a lawyer is at
least you are avoiding unregulated legal representatives who can offer all of
the above together with peddling some questionable products such as asset
protection trusts which Jo Public seem happy to gobble up, then worry about
later. And as the provider is not regulated, recourse is limited.