Society of Will Writers 2013
Being member of the Society of Will Writers means you take your responsibilities as a professional seriously enough to care; to care how you look to your clients; care enough to ensure that you are giving your clients the confidence that you are the right person to do business with.
Being a member of the Society of Will Writers means that you are safe to do business with; that you are properly trained; that you are properly kept up to date and properly indemnified against problems that may in the unlikelihood arise in the future.
Being a member of the Society of Will Writers means that by being a member you work to and agree to work to and fully comply with the Code of Practice and that your client in the unlikely event has a problem can apply to the Society for help and assistance.
Being a member of the Society of Will Writers shows the public that you are willing to invest in your future and through that investment in money and time to train and to keep yourself up to date in the law shows them you are a professional.
What does the Society offer you?
Initially we built our strength and reputation on technical support, training and a small number of local groups. Today the Society has grown the support and products it offers its members and continues to do so.
Some of the services we offer, we do so because we make it mandatory, such as Professional Indemnity Insurance, no professional would trade today without this protection, the American way of suing anybody and everybody has taken over the business model, but the Society sources what we believe to be the best cover and affordable cover available. Other services we offer, we do as we believe that by offering additional complimentary services and products helps build a better business and improves client confidence in you.
The following pages will lay out many of the benefits and more information can be found in separate leaflets and brochures available from the Society direct and will be included in your “Welcome Pack” when you join as a member. The benefits are not listed in any particular order of importance.
Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)
The Society sees PII cover as being fundamental to everyone who practices within our profession. The product that we offer to our clients may not be used for many years, but errors do occur. The policy is there to protect you against possible claims that may occur through omission or error. It may be that one only has to appear only to defend ones actions, but these can in themselves cost many thousands of pounds.
This unique policy, underwritten by Hiscox is part of a master policy which covers each and every Will to £2.5m, and annual premiums start as low as £290. New or existing members can also take additional comfort knowing that any earlier work is also covered by this retrospective policy*.
* Your retrospective date will be the date you first purchased Professional Indemnity cover. This means that any new members to the scheme need not worry about previous wills they have written as they will be included provided insurance was in place at the time of writing the will.
Working today in a growing litigious society means that PII has to be a must and no longer a luxury. A separate leaflet on the scheme is available and will give the current rates based on your current or anticipated turnover. For sole practitioners retiring and subject to certain conditions free run-off is included.
Technical Help and Assistance
The Society offers all Members full technical help and advice as part of their membership package irrespective of their grade, in the compiling and drafting of Wills and other related documents.
This service is available by letter, fax or e-mail and answers normally will be returned in written form within 24-48 hours, from firstname.lastname@example.org
The advice and assistance can be anything from a simple request to confirm a clause written by a Member, to compiling a complete clause to meet a specific need.
We can help where you have a complex case and need further assistance in which you are unsure of what advice is needed or where you simply want confirmation that your advice is sound.
More complex external advice of matters such as Trust work or Inheritance Tax planning is available for a fee. Depending upon the complexity, determines the cost to the member for the advice and assistance given by qualified advisers, if you are offered this service you will be told of any costs in advance.
Public Help Line
The Society provides a public free phone help line 0800 838270. Members have taken to this service and use it to promote their own credentials with prospective clients. We encourage the public to call if they have any doubt about the validity of the practitioner who they may be contemplating engaging.
To further complement this service leaflets entitled ‘Why Should I Make a Will’, “Where There’s a Will” and a “Practical Guide to Wills and Probate” are used by the Society to encourage members of the public to use the services of its members. They are available in standard form from the Society or can be personalised and printed to order. A set of poster masters in full colour are also available to Members. Details will be contained within your welcome pack that is sent to you after joining.
There are also a full range of leaflets available covering all the main topics and typical questions that may be asked of you. These can either be used as masters for your own stationery or purchased through the Society. The Public Information leaflets are distributed freely to the public when requested.
Each member also gets a free listing on the Society’s web site and should a member of the public contact the office for advice, a free pack is sent out with a listing of a maximum of three members in their location included
Local and Regional Groups
It is the aim of the Society to give access to every Member nationally the means of meeting with other Members through a local group. The aims of these groups are to promote training, information, support and guidance as well as ensuring that the individual practitioner has direct contact with others of like interests. The Society plans to grow this to 24 groups nationally.
Full details and contact numbers of the Regional Chairmen & Chairwomen are contained within the Society’s news letter ‘The Testament’ or on the Society’s web site within the member’s forum. The Society now issues a weekly news letter by email and all members can receive this informative document every Wednesday.
Individuals considering entering the profession are welcome at their local meeting to discuss with experienced Will Writers the benefits and the pit-falls of being a Will Writer.
Providing Information – the Forum
The Society provides a periodic news letter which is distributed free to each Member, the Testament. In addition to the Testament, the Society has further developed its web site at www.willwriters.com and invites comments and views from members and the profession in general via the Forum.
Any items of interest are posted as they appear in the press, as well as information on local group activities and other matters of interest to members. Members use the forum to share information, seek the views of others and to voice their own views and concerns.
Will Writing Software – Sure Will Writer
The Society in association with DPL offers members seeking a professional software package Sure Will Writer. SWW has now been in production for over five years and seen as the market leader. Not only does it produce Wills but Lasting and Ordinary Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Letters of Wishes and Tenancy Severance documents including the SEV registry forms.
Sure Will Writer can also produce a commentary for the Will which explains to the client exactly what the Will means in plain English. Sure Will itself is very easy to understand and easy to use. The commentary is an optional bolt-on.
The Society is also looking at software to enable members to compete in the internet market by offering on-line Wills at an affordable price. This should become available later in 2010.
Training and Education and CPD
The Society has for many years supported the College of Will Writing as its academic arm and is developing the courses further.
The courses range from the 2 day residential induction course “Taking Good Instructions” to a three day “diploma level” course. In between are a range of half and one day courses covering specialist subjects and developing your knowledge on existing courses such as tax and trusts, Lasting Powers of Attorney, working with elderly clients, role playing to develop your instruction taking skills and confidence.
All these and more are detailed on the College web site and in the latest 2010 prospectus available on request.
DEVELOPING YOUR BUSINESS
As with any business venture, whether full or part-time, there is always a need for additional income gained from either gaining greater knowledge and thereby expanding the current service or introducing new products and services.
The Society has long recognised the need for both of these. Training and education is primarily dealt with through the College of Will Writing. The College was fully integrated into the Society as the Training and Professional Development Division of the Society early in 1998 to ensure that the best was being obtained from both the Society and the College.
Most Will Writers see storage as both a means of additional annual income, and a valuable tool to keep in touch with existing clients.
The Society offers Members a safe, secure and professional Will and Document Custody service. Members can opt for annual payments or a single ‘life-time storage’ fee, both of which offer a checking service to ensure the Will and other documents are correctly attested, or alternatively now a free storage service.
The most common and effective method is to charge your clients annually. This ensures that you maintain in contact with your clients, receive a regular income and when the time comes for you hang up your quill pen, most Will Banks can be sold.
Either way, the charging structure by the Society means that you can still charge your clients and retain the majority of the income.
Full details and terms are supplied separately within this pack, or call Helen on 01522 687888 or email and ask for a sample pack.
Pre-Paid Funeral Plan
In 2009 the Society in association with Golden Leaves, one of the oldest established UK pre-paid funeral planning companies, launched our own plan.
More details can be found within the web site and in additional literature available through the
Marketing material and leaflets are all available to members free of charge* as are training manuals and help and assistance.
This year we have just launched (March 2010) the Road to Rome incentive, for the most plans sold during a given period.
*There will a charge for postage on large quantities
Offering Professional Executorship and Trustee Services
It has long been recognised that Probate was a restricted practice and handled only by the legal profession, banks and Trust Corporations. Will Writers naturally would like the ability to offer this service direct to their clients but without the problems and trauma of actually doing it themselves.
The Society has established its own probate company, Probate & Trustee Services Limited which trades as the SWW Trust Corporation to provide member’s client’s professional Executorship and Trustee services to their clients while providing members with an additional income stream.
Members can earn substantial commission and fees from this service when the deceased's estate goes to probate, based on the fee charged by the Trust Corporation.
All the shares in Probate & Trustee Services are owned by Society members
As a member of The Society every member has a free entry on the public side of the web site, which the general public can access to ‘find a member’ in their area. Although only established this year, many members report improved business from the site. Each member can also add up to 250 characters (including spaces) of personal information against their entry.
The Annual Conference
1997 saw the first Will Writers conference held in Birmingham. The conference has got bigger and better year on year with speakers being drawn from other professions and organisations, as well as from within the broad spectrum of members within the Society.
These conferences are not only educational but also a time for Members from all over the country to meet together and discuss matters with others of like mind.
Much of what the Society offers its Members is based around the individual, giving help and support to each other. We believe that this is the way forward, and that the market within which we work is large enough and sustainable enough for us to work together and not as competitors.