My last e-Will and testament
The Law Commission – the body responsible for reviewing the law of England and Wales and proposing reform – has started its long awaited consultation on the law of Wills.
The consultation covers various aspects of the law including the age at which a person can make a Will and the requirements for proving undue influence. However, one aspect has been deemed particularly newsworthy: that of electronic Wills.
The Law Commission makes two provisional proposals on electronic Wills. First, that courts be given the power to admit e-mails and even text messages to probate if satisfied that they accurately reflect a person’s testamentary intention. Second, that the Government makes further provision for electronic Wills, once a practical and secure system can be devised.
The Law Commission makes these proposals as it is concerned that current formality requirements are a barrier to making a Will. These formality requirements, contained in the Wills Act 1837, provide that, to be valid, a Will must be in writing, signed by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses who also sign the Will themselves.
The Law Commission believes its proposals would promote testamentary freedom – the ability to make a Will in whatever terms a person wishes – as well as being more convenient for testators. However, safeguards would have to be in place to protect against the risk of fraud and prevent the proposals discriminating against people less technologically inclined.
The Law Commission’s consultation ends on 10 November 2017. We, at Wansbroughs, will continue to monitor and report on developments as and when they arise.
By Andrew Langbridge
Last updated 01/08/2017