The Society of Will Writers and Estate Planning Practitioners, in agreement with the SWW Professional Standards Board, has agreed to update the SWW Code of Practice to further cement its stance on the sale of pre-paid probate products.
The SWW Code of Practice is hereby updated to version 2022.08, superseding version 2018.05 with immediate effect and includes the addition of new Clause 5.8, to accompany the existing Clause 5.7 in reference to probate and estate administration.
Please see below clauses 5.7 and 5.8 extracted in full:
A Member shall not undertake probate services or the administration of the estate of a deceased person for gain without the prior consent of the Society. Such consent shall not be unreasonably withheld from a Member who provides evidence of valid Professional Indemnity Insurance cover for probate activities and competence established by the attainment of one of the following:
- Certificate of Probate Practice (Licensed Conveyancers)
- Completion of the Legal Practice Course including Private Client Unit
- CILEX Level 6 Probate Practice
- STEP Diploma for England & Wales (Trusts and Estates)
- STEP Diploma for Scotland
- Approval by the Society based on experience
A Member shall not require, solicit, or otherwise attempt to obtain any advance payment for acting in the administration of a client’s estate, except for payment taken for an at-need service. This specifically prohibits the introduction to or sale of pre-paid probate products.
As per Clause 5.7, a Member may undertake probate services with the consent of the Society, and now the inclusion of Clause 5.8 makes it clear that offering pre-paid probate products to clients is now strictly prohibited and Members should cease such activities immediately. Any Member that is selling such products and intends to continue to do so should immediately inform the Society that they wish to withdraw their membership and remove all Society logos from their published marketing materials and business stationery. Failure to adhere to the Code of Practice will find the Member non-compliant with the Code, leading to disciplinary proceedings, which at worse would result in revocation of their membership to the Society.
In addition to the new clause, this updated version of the SWW Code of Practice also includes minor grammatical corrections, as well as clarification and tidying up of the definitions section to include the addition of “SWW”, membership grades with ordering alterations, and reference to Clause 5.8 to accompany Clause 5.7 under “Will Writing Services”.
All Members should be reminded they are to familiarise themselves with the SWW Code of Practice regularly, and in line with Clause 2.7 (a), ensure a copy is made available upon request to all clients free of charge.
We thank you for your understanding and continued support.