Transparency in will writing

If you’re making a will you should be afforded the protection and transparency that you deserve, says the Society of Will Writers.

What is the SWW?

The Society of Will Writers (SWW) is the largest self-regulatory body of its type, with 1,700 members spanning at least 16 countries.

We have been an active stakeholder representing the profession of will writing and our membership over the last 24 years, working with organisations such as the Legal Services Board (LSB), the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Law Commission.

Why will writing needs a code of practice

Following the lord chancellor’s decision not to implement statutory regulation, instead calling for stronger self-regulation, our vision is to work even more closely with our professional standards board (our advisory board) and to ensure that our members work in accordance with the SWW’s code of practice.

This allows us to ensure that members are ‘safe to do business with’, and that the consumer is afforded the protection and transparency that they deserve.

Priorities for the profession and consumers

Our advice to professionals couldn’t be clearer. The message is: transparency. We encourage all those under our banner to ensure that you consider the CMA’s guidelines surrounding pricing.

Our advice to the consumer is to take a common-sense approach to estate planning. Remember that, ultimately, what you pay is up to you. Don’t be pressured into buying services until you understand fully what the benefits and the likely timescales are.

Try to do your due diligence on the person writing your will to ensure that they are suitably qualified and will provide you with the protection that you’re are entitled to. SWW members are required to train themselves annually, provide the SWW with proof of professional indemnity insurance, and adhere to the our code of practice.

If you would like a will writing, you have options. These include:

  • Writing your own will, using a DIY will kit. We would not advise this for a wide variety of reasons.
  • Get in touch with a member of the Society of Will Writers, which you can search for here.
  • Speak to a solicitor or firm regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA), the independent regulatory body created by the Law Society to regulate solicitors and law firms of England and Wales. 

Solid reasons to make a will

The main reasons to write a will are:

  • To avoid intestacy: if you die without making a will (intestate), your assets will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. This will mean that the people you would like to inherit your estate may not necessarily do so.
  • To appoint executors: executors are the people who you choose to carry out your wishes and manage your estate once you have died. They are responsible for collecting in your assets, paying any debts and funeral expenses, and transferring any gifts to your beneficiaries. If you write a will, you can appoint people who you know and trust to act as your executors.
  • To appoint testamentary guardians: if you have minor children, you may wish to make provision in your will for who would care for them if you were to die. A will allows you to appoint guardians you trust and who your children are familiar with, offering you peace of mind. How you would like your children to be brought up can be explained in a letter of wishes accompanying the will.
  • To provide for the people you care about: a will allows you to make gifts to individuals who you care about and want to provide for, even those individuals who would not inherit under the rules of intestacy. If you and your partner are unmarried or not in a civil partnership, they will only inherit property that you own jointly if you die without a will. Making a will allows you to provide for them.
  • To make funeral arrangements: within your will you can make your desired funeral arrangements known. This can include whether you want to be buried or cremated, where you want the funeral to take place, and even whether you want flowers at your funeral or donations to a charity.
  • To manage inheritance tax: a carefully drafted will can help mitigate the amount of inheritance tax you pay on your estate.
  • To make gifts to charity: in your will you can leave a legacy to any charities that you have supported or feel strongly about. Any charitable gifts you make in your will are also free from inheritance tax.
  • To use trusts: through the use of trusts in your will you can protect your assets, such as your family home for your children, while still providing for your partner during their lifetime. You can also use trusts to hold assets on behalf of a child until they reach a certain age, or to protect a beneficiary from their own improvidence.

About the author

The Society of Will Writers, is a non-profit making, self-regulatory organisation that seeks to protect the public and serve the interests of those who are active professionals in the field.

The society has set itself two main tasks: to promote to the public the sense in having a valid will, and to act as a self-regulatory body by vetting practitioners through stringent membership requirements, proficiency standards and on-going training. 

See also

What can I do to prevent a future claim against my estate?