The Law Commission for England and Wales is consulting on measures to modernise legislation surrounding wills. What would you like to see them introduce to bring these Victorian laws up to date?
I was at a wedding reception over the summer and a fellow guest cheerily pointed out that if the bride or groom had already made a will, it could be invalid. Not the sort of conversation I was expecting, but I have to confess I didn’t know that was the case.
I’ve not actually made a will, although I know I should, and, as that wedding day chat highlighted, I’m not quite sure what all the rules mean anyway. Now I’m worried any will I do make will not pass on my possessions as I intend.
The Law Commission for England and Wales suggests that the UK’s 180-year-old will laws are unclear, outdated and fail to protect the vulnerable. They could even be putting people off making a will – which might be why 40% of people die without having written one.
Have you written a will?
Yes (71%, 168 Votes)
No (29%, 68 Votes)
Total Voters: 236
It is now aiming to improve the way that these laws work. There have been numerous unhappy cases when someone’s wishes haven’t been followed, even though it was obvious what they wanted, simply because a series of strict rules have been followed to the letter.
The Commission is currently consulting on measures to bring these laws into the 21st century. These include proposals to soften the strict formality rules, introduce a new mental capacity test that reflects modern medical understanding of conditions such as dementia, and lower the age for making a will from 18 to 16.
It also suggests that in some cases, a person’s wishes expressed in a text and email should be recognised as a valid will, paving the way for electronic wills fit for a modern world.
Of course, making a will should be straightforward, and when it’s clear what someone’s intentions are, those wishes should be acted on. But the Law Commission is concerned that the Victorian laws can act as barriers to people making a will, and can lead to painful disputes over wills following the death of a loved one.
We’ll be submitting a response to the consultation, and would like to hear your experiences with wills.
Have you been involved in a dispute over the execution of a will? Have you put off making a will because you’ve thought it would be too complicated, or fear that your last wishes won’t be followed?