Law Commission Proposes Changes to “Outdated” Wills Law

Solicitor Rebecca Hutchinson discusses the Law Commission’s proposed changes to “outdated” Wills law

It was announced last week that the Law Commission has launched a consultation with a view to reforming the law of Wills in England and Wales, which it has called “outdated”.

It has been suggested that the current formality requirements for creating a valid Will require modernisation and that twenty-first century methods of creating a valid will should be recognised. The Law Commission will explore whether texts, e-mails and other forms of electronic communication might constitute valid Wills in certain circumstances.

The requirements for creating a valid Will are contained in the Wills Act 1837. Currently, for a Will to be valid it must be signed by the Testator and witnessed by two people in the Testator’s presence.

The Law Commission has called for the rules to be more “straightforward” and will investigate whether it might be appropriate for family members or others to be able to apply to the Court to have other, less formal wishes approved such as texts or e-mails, where the deceased’s testamentary intentions are clear.

The Law Commission will also investigate whether a new test for testamentary capacity is appropriate, whether the age at which one can create a valid Will should be reduced from 18 to 16 and whether a new doctrine of undue influence should be introduced.

Law Commissioner Nick Hopkins has said: “Conditions which affect decision-making, like dementia, are not properly accounted for in the law…We want an overhaul to bring the law into the modern world.”

The consultation period will run until 10 November 2017.

Do I need a Will?

If you die without leaving a Will, there are specific rules, known as the “intestacy rules” which will govern how your estate will be distributed. These rules might not be in line with your wishes, for example unmarried partners, no matter how long they have been together, cannot inherit from each other unless they have made a Will. If you have no surviving relatives and you have not left a Will, your estate will pass to the Crown.

Can we help?

Yes, Progeny Private Law can advise and assist you to put in place a Will. Please get in touch for more information.

Rebecca Best

Senior Solicitor, Private Law

Rebecca has experience of dealing with a broad range of private client matters including Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Court of Protection work, the administration of estates, tax and succession planning, and the administration of trusts.

Learn more about Rebecca Best