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Will-writing quality scheme to launch in July

Chancery Lane's new kite mark to fill the gap left by lord chancellor's refusal to make will writing a reserved activity

22 May 2013

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Chancery Lane's new kite mark to fill the gap left by lord chancellor's refusal to make will writing a reserved activity

A new will-writing kite mark is set to launch in July, with firms able to join from September.

The Law Society-designed Will-Writing Quality Scheme (WQS), first mooted in June last year by chief executive Des Hudson, came in response to initial suggestions by the Legal Services Board that will writing should be made a reserved activity.

Only last week the lord chancellor refused to follow the LSB's recommendations. Instead Chris Grayling suggested that the sector should come up with alternative measures to address the consumer detriment highlighted by the LSB, including "greater efforts to educate consumers on the different types of provider and their respective protection and options for redress".

"This makes it even more necessary than ever to differentiate providers with expertise from others," said Gary Rycroft, partner at Joseph A Jones Solicitors and vice-chair of the society's private client section, who has been championing the scheme.

"Chris Grayling's decision paves the way for WQS. It was disappointing for consumers but it shows the profession needs to bang its drum more loudly," Rycroft told Private Client Adviser's sister title Solicitors Journal.

The scheme, will aim to set minimum practice standards for firms advising on will writing and estate administration.

Firms will have to abide by key principles set out in a general protocol dealing with service levels, timescales for communications with clients, and transparency about costs.

Separate protocols will deal with will writing and estate administration.

Negotiation help

As with the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), which now counts 2,555 firms, WQS is expected to help firms negotiate better deals with insurance premiums and provide a compelling marketing tool.

Lasting powers of attorney will not be covered by the scheme but it is anticipated they will be dealt with under a separate protocol in the future, according to Rycroft.

Chancery Lane is in the final stages of consultation with interested parties, including local law societies and insurance companies to fine tune some of the details of the scheme.

Applications to join the new scheme will be open to all SRA-regulated entities and will take place online rather than on paper as is the case currently with the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS).

The plan is for CQS to move to a web-based process at the same time as applications open to join WQS.

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Wills, Trusts & Probate