This year we’re on a mission to raise more awareness of The Society of Will Writers (SWW) and our Members, and a question we’re often asked is “What exactly does it mean to be a Member of the SWW?” Good question, we say! Allow us to explain.
The SWW has been protecting and serving the interests of the public for over 28 years now, and with near on 1,800 Members the SWW continues to grow, covering even more parts of the UK and beyond. Thanks also to the greater adoption of technology, now more so than ever the public can rest assured that almost wherever they turn, a Member of the SWW will be there to help.
It’s a common misconception that you must be a regulated individual or firm, for example a solicitor, to provide Will writing services. However, writing Wills isn’t what’s called a ‘reserved activity’, so whilst many who are regulated do provide such services, they don’t have to be, and you don’t have to choose someone who is. It’s worth remembering though that without regulation, those who offer these services don’t have to hold any qualifications, have any knowledge on the subject, or even be involved in the process to do so. That’s where the SWW and our Members are different.
When the SWW was founded, we introduced a self-regulatory framework to a profession that was still forming at the time. Whilst we’re not a regulator, it means that a set of standards are placed on any individual who applies to join our membership, all in the name of protecting the public and the profession. All Members must abide by our Code of Practice, hold a minimum of £2 million of Professional Indemnity Insurance, as well as meet regular training requirements, known as Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Meeting these requirements permits our Members to carry compliance certificates and ID cards, as well as display our badges, such as the ‘Safe to do business with’ mark. We do have Members who are regulated by other bodies; however, they must still meet our requirements on top of any statutory requirements they’re subject to.
When engaging with the unregulated sector you might not be afforded the same protections as the regulated sector if something goes wrong. This is part of the reason for our existence, with our founders identifying a real gap in access to redress for consumers, before taking it upon themselves to implement redress mechanisms to combat this from the outset. We’re pleased to say that complaints against SWW Members are few and far in between, although we do appreciate from time-to-time relationships can break down making reaching a resolution difficult. If a client is ever unable to resolve a complaint with the Member direct, they can bring this to us where our complaints procedure is designed to work with both parties to find a fair outcome. Complaints handling is overseen by the SWW Professional Standards Board (PSB) for absolute impartiality.
Another initiative introduced by the SWW is our Public Indemnity Fund (PIF) which is paid into by every Full Member (MSWW^) when they join. For many years now the PIF, also known as The Society of Will Writers Guarantee, ensures that in the event a Member is unable to complete an outstanding contract for their client, we can appoint another to take over so that they aren’t left without documents or services they’ve already paid for. We don’t have to use the PIF often, which is a testament to the robust contingency planning our Members implement for themselves to ensure their clients are always provided for. However, knowing the PIF is there provides that peace of mind you look for when dealing with something as personal as your Will and its importance is not to be underestimated.
To summarise, being an SWW Member promotes knowledge, competency, and security for the good of the public and the profession. By choosing an SWW Member you get to work with someone who is an expert because Will writing is what they’ve trained for and continue to develop their knowledge on to be able to do properly. You should always look for the SWW logo before choosing your Will writer, and if ever in doubt of someone’s credentials, be sure to contact us immediately and we will gladly advise. Remember, all SWW Members must carry their photo ID card with them and present it to you upon request.
If you’ve not yet written your Will, need to update an existing Will or require the services of a Member of the SWW for another reason, you can search for one using our Find a Member page, or call the office on 01522 687 888 and we will put you in touch with a Member nearby.
If you’re not yet a Member of the SWW, click here to request a copy of our free Information Pack and find out how you too can help better the profession.