As a professional body, STEP seeks to promote the highest standards of practice amongst its members. In an increasingly regulated world, it has long seemed to me odd that the preparation of the most sensitive document most people will ever sign, their will, is almost entirely unregulated in England & Wales. Anyone can do it, whether or not for reward. There are no universal standards of practice beyond those areas where the Courts have intervened. For some considerable time there have been calls for statutory regulation, but so far to no avail.
I therefore very much welcome the implementation by STEP of a Code for Will Preparation in England & Wales, which will come into effect on 1 April 2014. The Code will be binding on all members of STEP engaged in will preparation in England & Wales.
The Code is a guide to established best practice in will preparation. It is neither revolutionary nor excessive. Rather it reflects a set of behaviours precisely mirroring the expectations of the client: that he or she will be dealt with conscientiously, ethically and in a timely manner. These are principles that STEP seeks to promote in all areas of practice undertaken by its members. In the absence of statutory regulation, the STEP Code provides essential guidance for STEP practitioners, and assurance for their clients that they will enjoy the highest levels of service when instructing a STEP member to prepare their will. STEP members in England & Wales should greet the Code with enthusiasm and waste no time in bringing it to the attention of their clients.