The legal services sector is an often confusing place for the consumer and it is sometimes made more confusing when the information that is out there is perhaps not giving the full picture.
A recent article in the Observer highlighted the dangers of writing DIY wills. This is something that we agree with. However, the article then went on to state that people should look for a solicitor to write a will and make sure that they are Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) regulated. This definitely does not give the full picture. What the article should have said of course is that people should look for a qualified will writer. That might well be a solicitor, but it could equally be a legal executive or licensed conveyancer or a member of a professional body like the Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) each of whom can offer the consumer confidence that the standard of service they are getting is good. In the case of a will written by an IPW member, they can also be assured that their chosen will writer adheres to a code of practice that is approved under the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS).
This misinformation only serves to remove some consumer choice – at a time when the Legal Services Consumer Panel are looking to increase choice for consumers having regard to the Legal Services Act 2007 which set down one of its main aims to make legal services more accessible to the public.
The IPW gives that choice to the public. IPW members offer an alternative to the traditional way of having to use a solicitor. IPW members specialise in will writing and can offer advice on all aspects including inheritance tax planning, protecting assets in trusts as well as the most straight forward of wills. They guide the consumer through what can be an extremely confusing and difficult subject, producing at the end documents that the consumer and their family members can rely on.
Using an IPW member also ensures that the consumer is protected. Having a TSI approved code means that the consumer has access to third party redress should anything go wrong, it also means that IPW members have to hold professional indemnity insurance of at least £2 million and it means that IPW members have to keep up to date with the law ensuring that the advice they give is always up to date and accurate.
It is a danger to write a DIY will but the consumers choice is not restricted to traditional regulated lawyers. There are specialists out there and choosing a specialist that can display the TSI logo can ensure that the consumer is getting a good service from a trustworthy supplier.