The Society of Will Writers (SWW) held their 23rd two-day Annual Conference this week and were joined by over 90 delegates.
The conference opened on a high on Monday 7th October 2019, with Brian McMillan, Director General for the Society, informing the delegates of what has happened over the past 25 years, the changes the Society has seen and what is planned for the future.
Antony Brinkman, from the Professional Standards Board gave a quick update on what projects the Board is currently working on and gave a little glimpse into some of the exciting projects coming up.
Before he left, Antony said:
“Estate planning on a whole is an undervalued service. We don’t tend to get positive feedback from the work we do, because our work is only called upon once our clients pass away. We need to start valuing the work we do here. The SWW has high standards that all of the members work to, and I think everyone deserves a pat on the back for maintaining these standards.”
Denise Hodgson was one of the delegates at the Conference. She found all of the talks extremely insightful and was pleased with the event. She said:
“Listening to the speakers is very motivational and it helps to reaffirm that the role you’re doing is valuable. Working in the field as a Will writer can sometimes make you feel a bit like a ‘lone wolf’ and you don’t give yourself the recognition you deserve. Hearing positive comments from Brian and Anthony gives you the recognition you deserve. The insightful talks by the other speakers definitely gives you food for thought. This was my second SWW conference and I’m looking forward to the next one.”
Following on from Anthony, Siobhan Rattigan, Lead Tutor for The College of Will writing, spoke to the delegates about Inheritance (Provision for Families and Dependants) Act 1975, and how beneficiaries could object to the content of a Will based on the provisions that have or haven’t been left for them.
The talk by specialist Court of Protection and Chancery Barrister, Fay Collinson, from Kings Chambers regarding Undue Influence, Coercion and Financial Abuse of the Testator complemented the session run by Siobhan, and really got the delegates thinking. The floor was alight with questions, so much so, Fay continued her Q&A session after lunch.
The final speaker for day one, was Simon Douglas. A Barrister and Associate Professor of Law at the University of Oxford, Simon gave the delegates a quick rundown on how to spot mistakes in Wills and more importantly how to correct them.
As day turned to night, attendees enjoyed a black-tie dinner which was accompanied by a sing song with a Robbie Williams tribute act.
Tuesday 8th October, the second and final day of the Conference, saw delegates take part in a variety of workshops, where they could apply their knowledge to everyday situations, and learn best practice from their peers.
Tim Farmer, Managing Director of TSF Mental Capacity Assessors, took delegates through the Three Phases of Mental Capacity Assessments. Andy Riddle, Managing Director of Professional deputies ran a workshop on Deputyships – the Good the Bad and the Ugly.
Rounding off the final day of the conference was Gerrard Fisher, the Founder of Astrid Data Protection Ltd. He gave a workshop on Protecting Your Client’s Personal Data and Practical Actions to Comply with Regulations.
Siobhan Rattigan, said:
“The SWW Conference is really useful, especially as it helps everyone to see where the Society is after 25 years continued service. There has been a great range of speakers at this year’s event, and I think all of the delegates have had a lot of information to take away and put into practice.”
Speaking to delegates in the breaks, they were all extremely pleased with how the event went.
Brian W McMillan, Director General for the SWW, said:
“Following this year’s 23rd Annual Conference in this the 25th Anniversary year of the Society I have had time to reflect on the three days over which conference is held. This year there seemed to be a special atmosphere, more relaxed and especially at the evening gala dinner everyone was in a party mood, which began with the table top illusionist, live music in the form of Frank Sinatra to Robbie Williams. With the gaming tables, one could have mistaken the East Midlands for Vegas. The speakers, although new to us far and away exceeded what we could have expected and even fell in to assist cover when one speaker was taken ill on the way to the venue and had to return home. Overall an exceptionally great conference and one we may have difficulty emulating next year; however, we will do our best as always to educate and entertain our members.”
Everyone is looking forward to seeing what the next 25 years hold for SWW.