Institute of Professional Willwriters throws hat into ring to regulate wills market

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By Legal Futures

14 July 2011

Will-writers: IPW bidding to become regulator in Scotland too

The Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) will apply to become a regulator of will-writing services should the Legal Services Board decide to make it a reserved activity, it has confirmed.

Welcoming – which backed regulation for will-writing – IPW chairman Paul Sharpe called on the board and the government “to take prompt action to implement the recommendations”.

He said that after many years when hard evidence of problems with will-writing was difficult to come by, the panel had provided “much evidence of serious and damaging consumer detriment”.

The panel suggested that the IPW’s code of practice – which last year became only the tenth such code approved by the Office of Fair Trading – should form the basis of a regulatory scheme for will-writers. Mr Sharpe said: “The IPW is encouraged that the consumer panel recognised the position of the IPW and its members in the sector.”

The Scottish government decided to introduce will-writer regulation last year, and Mr Sharpe said that the IPW had formed the Institute of Scottish Professional Willwriters to apply to be a regulator of will-writing services there, using the IPW code of practice as the basis of the application.

“The IPW has every intention of applying to be a regulator of will-writing services in England and Wales should the proposals of the consumer panel be acted upon – and will use its Code of Practice as the corner stone of such an application,” he said.

The IPW has around 215 member firms and the most recent annual report on its code of practice – published earlier this month – reported that 43% of the 47 firms which had received compliance visits from the IPW passed with no issues of non-compliance; 53% initially failed but subsequently supplied new or additional evidence to confirm their compliance; and 4% failed and subsequently resigned their membership.

The report said that while the number of visits that initially found compliance issues was “disappointingly high”, the problems that were found “have typically been, arguably, minor… No member was found to have issues that were such that a second visit was required”.

Consumer feedback forms sent directly to the IPW by members’ clients found very high levels of compliance with the code, with 78% of the 4,200 respondents rating the service they received as excellent, and 99.6% saying they would recommend the will-writer.

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