Choose your Will Writer wisely

If a Will Writer is a member of the Society of Will Writers and Estate Planning Practitioners, we expect that they abide by our three compulsory requirements of Membership.  These include ongoing training and development, code of practice compliance, and a comprehensive insurance policy to cover their estate planning activities.  Choosing a qualified and knowledgeable Will Writer based on their track record, their expertise and how they work, should be of paramount importance.  Trust is spelled out and unpacked below as part of 5 considerations you should keep in mind when choosing a Will Writer.

  1. Training, skills and experience of Will Writing

The first mandatory requirement of SWW Membership is Continuous Professional Development (CPD) mainly but not exclusively through the Society’s College of Will Writing.  As Estate Planning Practitioners, all SWW Members are required to complete a minimum of 24 hours CPD a year which ensures their knowledge is up to date.  Be sure to check the academic and professional qualifications your Will Writer has received as part of their training so you know you can trust the advice they are giving and that it is up to date.

  1. Regulated by the Society’s Code of Practice

The second mandatory requirement of Membership with the SWW is adherence to our Code of Practice, including our 10 Membership Principles.  Will Writing is currently not regulated by statute, but that does not mean that professional standards should not be imposed.  Ensure that your Will Writer, is working with a high sense of duty and integrity.  Society Members work in accordance with a methodical process whereby client care is of utmost priority, as set out in our Code of Practice.  Find out whether your Will Writer is Code compliant by, amongst other things, checking if they display the Society’s ‘Safe to do business with’ logo.

  1. Up to date Professional Indemnity Insurance

The third mandatory requirement of Society membership is to hold a minimum of £2m Professional Indemnity Insurance. The Society has an insurance scheme in place with our Partner Jelf which members are welcome to use, however, they may have insurance elsewhere which meets our requirements.  It is important to check that your Will Writer is a Member of ours, and their insurance is up to date.

  1. Storage Services the Will Writer can provide

Once you are satisfied that your Will Writer is a Member of the SWW, it is advisable to discover what, if any Document Storage services they can offer.  Secure and dedicated Will Storage ensures that a Will can be discovered when it is needed.  As such, Document Storage is as important as the process of drawing up the Will in the first place.  Members of the Society are welcome to store Documents with our own safe storage facility, the National Will Archive.  Check whether your Will Writer, (1) offers Professional Document Storage with a dedicated storage provider such as the National Will Archive, (2) stores Documents themselves, or (3) leaves clients to self-store all Documents at home.

  1. Terms of Business and company literature

Members of the Society are welcome to use a template Terms of Business document we provide.  Many Will Writing companies, however, have their own terms and conditions in place and you should be aware of your rights and your Will Writer’s responsibilities.  Does your Will Writer have a robust complaints procedure in place?  Is your Will Writer transparent with their fees or are their fees listed as ‘price on application’?  Have they explained how your data will be handled and do they have a data privacy policy in place?  What about the information on their website?

Carry out as much research as you can before engaging a Will Writer

Use the checklist outlined above to your advantage when shopping around for a Will Writer.  To check the Membership status of a Will Writer or Estate Planning Practitioner, please contact the Society of Will Writers on 01522 687 888 or visit our Find A Member page.  If you are ever unsure about whether a Will Writer meets any of our three mandatory requirements, you should contact us and we will be able to help.  Our friendly and helpful team would be able to provide verifiable Membership information of any Member, as well as answer any other questions you may have.

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