In early July the Law Society launched its first recognised quality standard for wills and estate administration. The Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS) will open for applications from firms on 31 October 2013. It is aimed at SRA-regulated practices that offer will drafting, probate and estate administration services. The new standard will give firms the chance to show customers and key stakeholders that they are dedicated to meeting the highest standard of client service in the field of wills and inheritance.
The aim of the scheme
The president of the Law Society, Lucy Scott Moncrieff, described the scheme as one that seeks to reinforce set standards of practice and client care when providing will drafting, probate and estate administration services. It has been brought in to create more customer reassurance, and will demonstrate a firm’s commitment to delivering high levels of service. The scheme will also make it easier for consumers to choose regulated solicitors that are specifically endorsed for high standards in will writing. Creating a new standard will allow consumers to distinguish between those that are unregulated and those that offer a trusted quality service.
A lack of regulation
The Law Society has campaigned to change the law so that only properly trained, regulate and insured individuals are authorised to write wills. With the law as it is, anyone can set themselves up as a ‘will writer’ and provide services to consumers. The unregulated nature of the will writing sector leaves consumers increasingly vulnerable and can result in wills being invalid and inaccurate. Despite arguing that all those providing wills services should be trained to the same level, the government has not changed the law. Because there is no law requiring regulation, the new standard will allow SRA regulated firms to distance themselves from non-solicitor will writers and use the Law Society’s mark of quality to their advantage.
Applying for the standard
Firms have been invited to register their interest in the scheme online and accreditation evaluations will start at the end of October. Mandatory training will be required by relevant persons within accredited practices every year to ensure a practice is fully prepared to carry out any work they undertake. The Law Society will support accredited firms by providing them with promotional materials such as stickers and logos to help promote their membership. Press releases and the presence of the scheme logo will also publicise membership of the scheme. This new standard for legal practices will ultimately make it easier for clients to make informed choices when deciding to make a will, and will allow the best firms to be recognised for their excellent will writing and probate services.