Wills is an area of law that has changed very little over the years and is often seen as quite archaic. For example, the primary legislation governing wills is the Wills Act 1837. However, the Law Commission has recently launched a consultation on wills reform. The stand out proposal that is to be considered is the prospect of electronic wills, which can include forms such as emails and text messages.
Over recent years, there has been a large increase in wills being challenged in court and contentious probate has become an area of law in itself. Therefore, the proposals by the Law Commission are designed to make it easier for people to make wills and for their wishes to be carried out. In a similar proposal, the Law Commission has also suggested that the regular formalities usually required for a valid will, be relaxed.
There has also been an advance in modern technology which would make electronic communication as a means of making a Will very straightforward.
The commission is also consulting on reforms including lowered the age for making a Will from 18 to 16 and a new mental capacity test to take into account the modern understanding of conditions like dementia.
Wills require a lot of careful consideration, as they are essentially a person’s final wishes. Therefore. to include such means such as text messages and emails could be problematic as these are forms of communication that can be sent in haste. This could also lead to several amendments being made as people will be more likely to change their minds, without careful consideration.
This proposal could also be counterproductive for the Law Commission, as although it will be easier for people to make a will, it could also increase the number of claims against the validity of a will.
An electronic will might save you money on legal costs initially, but an important part of will making is also understanding taxation, such as inheritance tax. Without the specialist advice that comes with making a will with a solicitor, it is likely that the amount of inheritance tax that testators pay, will increase significantly.
Whether electronic wills are the way forward is still up for debate. However, if you wish to discuss the possibility of making a will, please contact our specialist team on 01792 648111, who will be able to advise your further.