Consultation launched to update will making process – but no changes yet

There has already been much debate about the proposals to modernise the laws around making wills, which are currently under consultation.

The Law Commission for England and Wales recently said that the process of making a will is “outdated” and should be brought into the “modern world”, as a means of encouraging more people to document their wishes – latest figures show that at least 40% of people currently die without having done so.

The consultation, which runs until November, will consider factors to help making a will become more informal and accessible, including whether texts, emails and other electronic communications should be recognised as a valid will in some circumstances.

The need to have a will is something that cannot be overemphasised – by making a will, you can ensure your wishes are followed, your assets and possessions are given to the people you want to receive them, you avoid paying too much tax, and avoid any distressing and costly disputes over your Estate.

However, it must be noted that as of now, nothing has changed, and the laws around making your will remain the same.

Currently, for a will to be legally valid, it must be written by someone aged 18 or over who is of sound mind, and it must be signed in front of two witnesses who must also both be over 18 and must both sign the will in your presence. Your will should be reviewed regularly and kept up-to-date, especially when there have been significant changes in your life.

The Commission has acknowledged that proposals on electronic communications are potentially risky, and could cause family arguments and disputes, so at this stage they are proposals only which may not ultimately be incorporated as part of the legal process when the consultation concludes.

It remains the case that it is always advisable to have your will prepared by a specialist solicitor, who will be able to guide you through the process and help with any advice you may need.

Jessica Morton is a wills and probate specialist solicitor at Newcastle law firm Sintons. To speak to her about this or any other matter, contact or 0191 226 7801.

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