Law Society proposes code of conduct for will writing

The Law Society is preparing to launch a voluntary code of conduct, aimed at members which are engaged in will writing, and following the Government's decision to leave the practice unregulated.

The Government confirmed it would reject calls to regulate will writing earlier this month, against the recommendations of the Legal Services board.

The Law Society says it will respond to this inaction with the introduction of the Wills and Inheritance Scheme; a voluntary code of conduct which is open to members of the Law Society and will encourage firms to subscribe to a minimum set of standards when it comes to will writing.

Details of the scheme have yet to be confirmed but the society says it is aiming to have the majority of details in place by July and to start accepting applications by the end of October.

Under the draft proposals, firms which qualify for the scheme would become accredited for one year, after which the process would have to be renewed.

A spokeswoman for the Law Society says: "Until the Government changes its minds on this, the only sensible choice for consumers is to have a solicitor to write your will, and to ensure a solicitor is chosen to administer the estate of your loved one. A solicitor is qualified and brings the comfort of an unrivalled regulatory and compensation system to put right any errors.

"The Law Society scheme, set to launch in July, 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.

"The regulation of will-writers remains Law Society policy and we believe that it is strongly in the public interest. We will be reviewing next steps in the light of the Lord Chancellor's decision."

The LSB, tasked with overseeing the UK's legal regulators, said it was disappointed by the Government's refusal to impose mandatory regulation and said it would examine the details of the decision before responding.

The Law Society said the decision had let down consumers and would leave unregulated providers free to carry on writing wholly unsuitable wills.