Choose a qualified professional if you are planning your will

two people with paperworkWill writing is unregulated, so how can you be sure of the credentials of the writer before you buy their service? The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) explains.

Nobody likes to think of their own mortality, so it’s easy to put off making a will or a lasting power of attorney. Nonetheless, it makes sense to get these important documents drawn up, to make sure that your family is not left in any additional distress or hardship when the time comes.

Finding a qualified will writer

In England and Wales, will writing is unregulated by the government. As anyone can write a will, it’s easy to find will writers online or via directories.

However, you should bear in mind that they may not actually be familiar with inheritance or tax law, or be able to give proper advice on what’s best for you and your family. If you speak to a qualified professional, such as a member of STEP, you’ll get advice that’s impartial, correct, appropriate to you, and up to date.

STEP is the professional association for practitioners who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning. Its members are from a range of professions, including accountancy, banking, financial advice, law, tax advice and trust administration.

Members draft wills and trusts, administer estates, and act as trustees. They can advise families how to ensure their finances comply with the law and tax regulations.

They can also help with other matters. This might include how to provide for a family after one partner has died, making sure that vulnerable relatives are cared for and supported, and helping a family business pass safely to the next generation.

What is a TEP?

A full member of STEP is entitled to put 'TEP' after their name, which stands for trust and estate practitioner. Full members need to pass a number of qualifications to be accepted, or provide proof of equivalent experience, and they are required to keep their skills up to date.

STEP has other categories of membership as well, including affiliate (entry-level) and associate (mid-level) members, and all members are required to sign STEP’s code of professional conduct.

If you have a problem of your own, and you’re not sure if it’s the kind of subject STEP members deal with, take a look at advisingfamilies.org. You can contact a TEP via the site, or get in touch with STEP’s London office on 020 3752 3700, or by email at step@step.org.

See also

How do you choose legal services?