Today's Wills and Probate attend the 19th Society of Will Writers Annual Conference

This week Co-owner Karen Babington and Editor Heather Cameron attended the 19th Society of Will Writers (SWW) Annual Conference in Redditch.

The conference was attended by 123 will writers, up by 10 on last year.

The Society welcomed back Derek Forbes who had assisted in organising and delivering our very first conferences.

Brian McMillan opened the conference by announcing that 137 full members had joined the Society in the last two years. In addition 550 students have attended courses since the College opened 3 years ago. Brian’s message was clear – the Society wants to position itself, and its members as being "safe to do business with" and will be concentrating on improving compliance standards further within the membership.

From the first day, one highlight was Martin Holdsworth of Jones Myers speaking on the topical subject of will disputes. We learned that as many 1 in 20 wills now being disputed. Martin’s figures were backed up this week by a Ministry of Justice report showing there has been a steep rise in the number of wills being contested in court.

Other speakers included James Greenwood talking on the effects of probate and Mike Smith on foreign property.

The key speaker was James Kessler who talked on a range of subjects including the Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act through to discretionary will trusts. James took a number of questions from the audience.

In the evening attendees were entertained by comedian, Jamie Sutherland, over dinner as well as table illusionist, Darren Kidby – a member of the Magic Circle.

Day 2 consisted of a number of practical workshops which included Craig Ward talking about the Care Act 2014. Local authorities are actively looking for IFAs and care planners who fit the criteria to provide advice on a number of related subjects such as IHT and long term care planning giving opportunities to estate planners as a source of work.

Brian commented: "We are delighted with how our 19th annual conference went. We would like to take the opportunity to thank you all for joining us.

"As you heard at conference, this year has been a busy one for the Society. Our 21st anniversary has been packed with developments that we hope will drive the Society and its members forward in the absence of statutory regulation.

"Our Code of Practice has undergone development to ensure that the consumer is fully protected and understands what they can expect from a member.

"As you will now fully appreciate we are looking to drive forward the standards the SWW has set since its inception in order to ‘demonstrate what ‘good’ looks like’. In order to make working with an SWW member as transparent as possible we announced the introduction of our member’s principles. The idea is that this will support the new ‘safe to do business with’ logo which we hope will sit alongside the SWW seal as a real sign of quality, dependability and assurance.

"We have no doubt that the next 12 months until our 2016 conference will be just as busy as the last year and we have full confidence that we will grow from the success we are experiencing."

"Firstly many thanks for arranging another highly successful conference. I really enjoyed this and feel I have learnt a lot from the two day event. It is also great to see you all face to face again and meet other Will Writers." — Ms. M. J.

"Just a short note to say thank you for organising conference. Can you pass on my thanks to Brian. I thought the lectures and courses were very good and update to date with matters affecting the industry." — Mr. J. O.

"Thought the Conference was good. Excellent food, and very good comedian," – Mr. R. C.

Today's Wills and Probate