Happy 3rd Birthday WIQS

It is 3 years since the Law Society unveiled its latest Quality Standard – the Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme – WIQS for short.

Whilst WIQS hasn’t had the uptake of the other Law Society Quality Standards such as CQS and Lexcel, if I was a law firm, I would be seriously considering WIQS accreditation.

The fact that more and more forward thinking law firms are focusing on growing their wills and probate departments comes as no surprise. After all, compared to conveyancing, it is recession proof and with an ageing population and over 2,000 Lasting Powers of Authority being registered daily, there is no shortage of work.

One of the most compelling reasons for firms to concentrate on building their wills and probate departments is the benefit that their conveyancing department realises as a result. When pitching up at estate agents (where 25% of all conveyancing referrals are sourced), the most commonly asked question is “Can you send us any probate sales?”

A thriving probate department means a thriving conveyancing department as a result.

Due to the lack of take up of WIQS, it could differentiate your firm locally from your competition.

Catherine MacCracken, Partner, Birchall Blackburn Law, comments: “For us the WIQS accreditation has been about trust. It really does give potential customers that extra bit of reassurance that they are dealing with a firm that takes quality and customer care seriously.”

In today’s legal market, there is an ever increasing emphasis on risk management and a welcome consequence of demonstrating strong risk management procedures, is an increase in the quality of customer care.

Firms that achieve accreditation under the Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme have clearly demonstrated their ability to conform to the Quality Mark. Setting clear and achievable expectations at the outset in areas such as communication and timescales, as is required by WIQS, differentiates those firms who have achieved the Standard and results in a better client experience making it easier for firms to demonstrate value for money.

Standard of service, particularly where a person is vulnerable, which can often be the case with clients who are seeking assistance from the Wills & Probate department is a priority risk identified by the SRA in their 2016/2017 Risk Outlook.

So, a few pieces of useful information about WIQS:

  • All existing SRA regulated practices or sole practitioners who can prove 3 years’ experience of wills and trust administration are eligible to apply for WIQS accreditation. For new practices or sole practitioners or existing practices or sole practitioners who have been in existence for less than 3 years, the nominated SRO must be able to demonstrate 3 years’ previous experience of wills and estate administration.
  • Both the Quality Standard and the Code have client care at their core and both provide a framework within which practitioners are required to work ensuring the highest standards of client care and service, improved communication and increased transparency.
  • WIQS is designed around 5 pillars, namely probity, quality standards, core practice management standards, client service and scheme quality assurance with a detailed (83 page) protocol to which firms must adhere.
  • The application process for WIQS is similar to that for CQS and firms that have CQS or Lexcel are exempt from demonstrating the core practice management standards as these mirror those for the aforementioned accreditations.

Legal Eye has worked with a number of firms to help them achieve WIQS. Contact me for further information, costs and timescales and to talk through the process.

This article was submitted to be published by Legal Eye as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills & Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills & Probate.

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