Will-writing has not moved on a huge amount over the last 100 years or so. However, the Law Commission opened a consultation last week to look at bringing the wills process into the 21st century.

Why?

The will-making process is not always simple, and we would advise everyone to seek the assistance of a solicitor in making a will. There are very strict rules in place about how to make a will – failing to comply with these rules could mean that your will is not valid at all.
The consultation has been started to try to modernise the system. Law Commissioner, Professor Nick Hopkins said: “Making a will and passing on your possessions after you’ve died should be straight-forward. But the law is unclear, outdated and could even be putting people off altogether.”  In fact, the Law Commission puts the number of people who haven’t made a will at 40% of the population.

What the consultation is looking at

The Law Commission is asking the public for ideas on how to modernise the will-making process, and to protect people who make wills from fraud.

  • The proposals they are looking at includes:
  • Softening the currently strict formality rules
  • A new test to look at mental capacity, in order to take into account current understanding of conditions such as dementia
  • Reducing the age at which someone can make a will from 18 to 16
  • Allowing the courts to dispense with the formalities for wills where it is clear what the deceased wanted
  • A new way to protect people making a will from being unduly influenced by another person.

One of the major items on the agenda is the possibility of signing wills electronically, or even online. Wills could potentially be made by video recording, although there would be specific considerations as they have the potential for editing or dubbing. There is also a possibility that a court could consider a text message as a valid will in certain circumstances.

What happens next?

The consultation is open until 10 November 2017, when all of the responses will be considered. Some of the changes are then likely to become law at a later date. We will keep our blog up to date with any changes to the law.
Making a will needn’t be complicated, and your solicitor can help you through the process. If you would like any further information or advice, please call us on 0800 988 7756.
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