The Law Commission published its consultation on 13 July 2017 on reforming the law of wills, which will close on 10 November 2017.
The Law Commission recognises that the current law is not as clear or as protective as it could be and needs updating, requiring a reform of wills. The current law in England and Wales that governs wills is mainly derived from the Wills Act 1837, which is complex and outdated. It is thought that 40% of the adult population do not have a will, and it is recognised that, even when someone has made a will, the complexities in the law can sometimes mean that rules on the formality of a will are not followed and therefore the validity of a person’s will comes into question.
When someone dies without leaving a will (intestate), or with a will that is not valid, it can cause difficulties for the family at an already stressful and upsetting time.
The reform of wills proposals to be considered by the Law Commission, in a hope to update the current law, making it less complex and more fitting with a modern society, include the following:
- enabling the court to dispense with the formalities for a will where it is clear what the deceased wanted;
- changing the test for capacity to make a will to take into account the modern understanding of conditions like dementia;
- provide statutory guidance for doctors and other professionals conducting an assessment of whether a person has the required mental capacity to make a will;
- new rules protecting those making a will from being unduly influenced by another person;
- lower the age for that a will can be made from 18 to 16; and
- Giving the Lord Chancellor power to make provision for electronic wills.
We have a large experienced Private Client team at Clarion who regularly advise on and prepare basic and complex wills. We will be keeping a close eye on the progress of the consultation on the reform of wills, and you can too at http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/wills/.
If you are thinking of making a will, or have made a will and have any concerns or wish to discuss the terms of your will, we would be happy to help. Please contact us on 0113 336 3427 or email us at
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