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The process of making a valid Will is currently governed by the Wills Act 1837 – but a consultation may see these laws radically change. Chris Dickinson explains.
The Act provides, amongst other things, that a valid Will must be in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign in the presence of the person making the Will and of each other.
The Law Commission has been carrying out a consultation since July of this year on whether these laws are outdated and if changes should be made to the way Wills are made.
Some of the key issues being considered are changing the way solicitors assess mental capacity for someone to make a Will, altering the age required to make a Will from 18 to 16, and giving the courts greater flexibility to uphold wills that do not meet the necessary legal requirements. Digital Wills may also be considered in the future.
Whilst some solicitors support in principle the proposal to extend the Court’s discretion to uphold Wills that do not meet existing legal requirements, there is also concern about making changes to laws that are long established and widely understood.
Throughout the recent proposals, there has been no suggestion of regulating the Will writing industry. This remains a continued source of concern to solicitors who regularly encounter Wills prepared by unregulated Will writers who lack the necessary expertise. The risk to clients is that the negligent Will is only discovered after their death and often the surviving family have no legal recourse as the unregulated WiIl writer does not have Professional Indemnity Insurance.
Pinney Talfourd will be keeping you up to date with progress throughout the consultation. In the meantime, if you don’t have a Will in place please contact our Private Client team who will be happy to discuss this with you. We have a large team of experienced solicitors who can guide you through the process either at one of our offices or at your home.This article was written by Chris Dickinson, a Private Client Solicitor at Pinney Talfourd LLP. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of November 2017.