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Will writers win OFT approval for consumer code

12 May 2008

The Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) has won backing from the Office of Fair Trading for its consumer code.

A survey of over 1,000 people across the country commissioned by the IPW last year revealed that 92 per cent were unaware that will writers did not need any professional qualifications.

The IPW’s code, which has completed the first stage of the OFT’s consumer codes approval scheme, lays down some minimum standards for members.

Members must provide a satisfactory Criminal Records Bureau check. They are forbidden from using pressurised selling techniques and must provide customers with a seven-day cooling-off period.

Other requirements are passing an entrance exam, undertaking CPD and refunding deposits where the service is not actually provided.

Paul Sharpe, chairman of the IPW, said that completing the second stage of the OFT’s process would allow members to display an OFT approved code logo. “We view this third party endorsement as a major step towards enhancing consumer protection within our sector.”

A Law Society spokesman said although it was possible to make a will without a solicitor, it was advisable to use one to avoid mistakes.

“A solicitor’s expert advice is particularly important if a person has children aged under 18, if they own a business or if several people who depend on a person financially could make a claim on their estate,” he said.

In a separate development, Will Aid has launched a new logo for this year’s campaign (see right). The campaign, which takes places in November, involves solicitors writing basic wills for free in exchange for a charity donation from the client.

Sue Davison, campaign officer for Will Aid, said the challenge was for the scheme to expand from its strongholds in the market towns to the big cities. “There are some areas which always support us, and others which are deserts,” she said.

She added that the campaign, which from this year is annual rather than biennial, had the backing of the Law Society’s probate section.

Since it began in 1988, Will Aid has raised almost £7m in donations, for a range of charities including Christian Aid, Help the Aged and the NSPCC.

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Risk & Compliance Contracts & Rights Clinical negligence Charities Wills, Trusts & Probate