The importance of having a valid Will that is fit for purpose is not to be underestimated. In the UK Will Writing is an unregulated profession – this means that anybody can write a Will, whether it be for themselves, or for somebody else. With many Will Writing companies throughout the UK it’s now easier than ever to get a bespoke Will drafted. But how can you be certain the person or company you’re doing business with is providing you with valid and suitable documents, and not just a cowboy posing as a professional?
In 2011 the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) published a report on Cowboy Will Writing which outlines five main problem areas within the UK Will Writing market:
- Invalid Wills
- Will writers making untrue claims
- Disappearing Wills and Will writing companies
- Hidden fees
- Fraud in estate administration
STEP believe that Will Writers should be regulated to ensure minimum standards of competence and behaviour. Through proper training, insurance and set standards, these problems can easily be overcome – something that by aligning to a membership organisation such as The Society of Will Writers (SWW), can be achieved. The SWW has 3 mandatory membership requirements – members must hold valid Professional Indemnity Insurance, adhere to the SWW Code of Practice, and complete mandatory continuous professional development (CPD). Through these requirements we can ensure that our members are ‘Safe to do business with’, as SWW membership is there not only for the professional, but also to safeguard the consumer.
How do I know a Will Writer is safe to use?
Always make sure you use a trained professional who is fully insured to draft your Will. You can avoid cowboy Will Writers by checking if they belong to a membership organisation such as the SWW, they will have to have the necessary qualifications to provide their services to you. Before granting membership to the SWW we ask for proof of proficiency, and to retain that membership we issue audits on an annual basis where all requirements met must be noted and evidenced. All compliant members are issued with certificates and ID cards on return of their annual audit and you can contact us at any time to check whether someone who is claiming to be a member, is a member. There is a similar process for solicitors, who must be regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). You can check a solicitor with the SRA at any time.
Members who are found to not be SWW code compliant (whether this be discovered through internal checks or if it has been brought to our attention externally) are contacted immediately informing them to bring themselves up to date and failure to do so can lead to expulsion from the SWW.
If you would like to find a SWW member in your area, visit: https://www.willwriters.com/members/ or call us on 01522 68 78 88