Where there’s a will, be assured it goes your way…

Perhaps not the exact words that a firm providing will drafting or probate and estate administration services would use in its advertisement to attract clients. But it certainly would be the message being conveyed to clients if that firm displays the Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS) logo on its website, headed paper or office window.

As the law currently stands, anyone can write a will. This has resulted in some competition for solicitors in recent times. Particularly from ‘DIY’ will kits which are available online as well as on the high street. The main advantage of using these alternative methods is that they are much cheaper than using a lawyer. But any advantage gained is outweighed if the will is invalid. Some of these alternative firms also do not have any insurance in place since there is nothing in the law requiring them to do so.

Earlier in 2013, the government rejected calls from The Law Society (TLS) and the Legal Services Board (LSB) to regulate this industry so that only trained, regulated and insured people would be able to provide this service. Following on from this, the Law Society launched the WIQS in July 2013. The scheme is geared towards consumer reassurance, demonstrating a commitment to putting their needs first and delivering the highest levels of service.

The WIQS is directed at Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) regulated firms that will also have to sign up to the WIQS Protocol: essentially an 83-page document of ‘dos and don’ts’. Before a firm can receive this validation, the solicitor will need to make a WIQS application. They must then undertake compulsory training, self-reporting, random audits, and annual reviews in order to maintain the new status.

With already existing schemes such as Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP) and Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), the need for a scheme such as WIQS may be questioned. But a crucial difference is that these schemes are held by individuals rather than by the firm as a whole. It is likely that the WIQS nominated individual(s) within a firm will already hold a STEP or SFE certificate. 

If the scheme is properly advertised and marketed to consumers, a firm with a WIQS logo, backed by the Law Society, would be synonymous with expertise in this area as well as delivering the highest levels of service to the client. The hope is concerns that consumers have about legal service providers can be allayed and assurances can be given as to the quality of service they will receive. 

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