For the team here at head office not a day goes by where somebody doesn’t call us to find a member whose services they can use, or to check if someone they’re considering using is a member. Whether they’re looking for Wills, LPAs, someone to look over some existing documents or even just provide them with some advice, the 1,600 members we have across the UK as well as Europe and even further afield mean it’s very rare that we find ourselves unable to point them in the right direction. Occasionally however, a caller has some concerns over the person, or company that they’re considering using, or have already used and whether or not this is going to cause any problems for them.
If you weren’t aware, Will writing is an unregulated profession and as such we always advise to check in the first instance that whoever you’re considering engaging for legal services belongs to either a voluntary self-regulatory body such as The Society of Will Writers, or, if they’re a solicitor you should check that they’re registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Membership to The Society of Will Writers carries with it three mandatory requirements. These are holding a minimum of £2m professional indemnity insurance, completing regular training through ongoing CPD as well as adherence to our Code of Practice. We also audit our members on an annual basis to ensure best practice and all this together is what makes our members safe to do business with.
Our membership is on an individual basis, so it’s only ever the person who is registered as a member and not the company as we do not have any kind of corporate/company membership. All Society members are issued with a unique ID number as well as an ID card. They are expected to carry these with them when meeting with clients so don’t be afraid to ask them to present their ID card to you. If you’re ever unsure you can always check with us to see if someone is a member by looking on our find a member page, although not all members have a web listing, or call us and we will check our records for you.
If they’re not a member, there’s no need to panic. Whilst we’d love for all will writers out there to join the Society, we realise that for as long as the industry remains unregulated and the will writer has a choice in the matter, this is unlikely to happen. They could be a member of other membership bodies like ours, or they could be registered with the SRA so you may want to check elsewhere. It just means that it’s important you do your due diligence before inviting anyone into your home or handing over any money, because without the backing of a professional body you may not have any protection should anything go wrong. Occasionally something does go wrong, but where the person in question isn’t a member there is unfortunately little we can do. We only have powers over those who are registered with us, in which case you may need to turn to a solicitor or your local trading standards for help.
Always be sure to look out for the Society logo, our special 25th anniversary logo or our Safe to do business with logo.