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Overall Legal Service Delivery on Probate Is Patchy

Posted: Thursday, 10 May 2018 @ 14:04

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.”

Ouch.

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.

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