Happy New Year!
As we start the year, many of us have New Year’s resolutions or a list of things we want to achieve in the coming year. One thing that may be on your list of things to do is review your internal processes.
In this new series of articles, we will set out to cover some of these processes and give you some tips and advice.
This article will start with the basics and look at what documentation we would advise you to have in place before you take instructions for a Will and estate plan.
Client Care Letter/ Terms of Business
Although there isn’t a formal requirement to provide a client care letter, you do need to provide the client with information on the services you offer. Law firms have an obligation to provide information on their services at the point at which they are instructed by the client.
A client care letter or terms of business is a very useful document to have as this sets out the terms on which the client has engaged your services. Members who use our Terms of Business template (available in the Member’s area) will note this covers what the company undertakes to do, what is expected from the client, refunds, notice of the right to cancel, any liabilities and lastly where to direct any complaints. Your letter or terms of business should clearly set out what the client has engaged for you to do, the cost, and the timeframe by which the work is to be completed i.e. when draft and final documents will be sent to the client.
Not only does this document set out clearly what you have agreed with the client and the terms on which they have signed to accept but can also reduce potential complaints arising at a later date.
We would always advise you to have this signed by all clients before proceeding and a copy placed on your file with another copy left with the clients.
A client has the right to cancel their contract within 14 calendar days in accordance with The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.
If your terms of business do not incorporate a cancellation form, you should provide one to the client separately. We would add that use of a cancellation form is optional but cancellation of a service should be in writing and contain the following information:-
- A clear statement that notice is being given to cancel the contract
- Date the contract commenced
- Consultants name
- Name and address
- Signed and dated
As a will writer, you are required to take all reasonable and proper precautions to verify the identity of your client and that the instructions you take come from that person. This is in accordance with the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.
Before you proceed with taking instructions from the client, you should obtain 2 forms of ID from each of your clients. One must be photo ID and the other must be a proof of address.
You should obtain one document from list A and one document from list B
List A – Identity Document
- Current signed passport
- Valid UK photo driving licence
- EEA member state identity card
List B – Proof of Address
- Valid UK/EU/EEA Drivers Licence – if not used from List A
- Bank or building society statement
- Utility bill
- Council tax bill
- Mortgage statement
Any document produced for proof of address must be no older than 3 months and must have the client’s current address. A copy of the ID should then be kept with the file so you can show you took steps to identify the client before taking instructions.