The call for will writing to be regulated was a result of the growing number of wills badly drafted by solicitors and non-solicitors alike; however, following the disappointing announcement by the government in May this year that will writing will not be regulated, The Law Society has created a new initiative in attempt to deal with some of the issues.
The Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS) is due to launch on Thursday, 31 October 2013. It is a level of accreditation for practice in the areas of wills and estate administration and is only open to firms who are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). It is similar to the existing Lexcel and CQS accreditations.
In order to be WIQS accredited, each individual in the firm dealing with wills and estate administration work is required to undergo mandatory training; however, the assessment appears to be based on members following a particular protocol for dealing with these work types rather than on the individual’s technical knowledge on the subject area. The Law Society have said that they will conduct on-going spot-checks on firms and an annual re-application is required.
At present there are already organisations for practitioners doing wills and estate administration work to join and they do have formal assessments by way of examinations and dissertations on the actual areas of law. The Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners (STEP) requires individuals to cover estate administration, trusts, tax and accounts whilst Solicitors For the Elderly (SFE) requires individuals to complete a paper which contains questions regarding wills and estate planning, powers of attorney and issues around care home funding.
From the Law Society’s statistics, over 800 solicitors have registered an interest to receive updates on the WIQS following their webinar earlier this month; however, do these numbers accurately reflect the number of people who will join?
Justine Clowes, head of our private client team and Vice Chair of Solicitors for the Elderly has commented “Whilst the WIQS protocol sets out an excellent model of best practice principles, it isn’t mandatory for solicitors to join. Unless the Law Society markets the scheme effectively, the general public won’t know that it exists and won’t necessarily look for members of the scheme when deciding who to go to for advice.”
For more information about wills please contact our wills and wealth planning team on 01625 442148.