A review by the Law Commission into the law surrounding wills has revealed some interesting statistics- and shared its view that these laws need modification to being them into step with the modern age.
The Commission cites research stating that an estimated 40% of adults die each year without having made a will, with confusion surrounding the law being given as a possible reason.
It also feels that advances in the medical understanding of conditions such as dementia need to inform how the law assesses a person’s capacity to make a will.
Amongst others, the Commission are proposing the following changes:-
- The introduction of electronic wills (providing there is a secure way for these to be administered);
- Enabling courts to accept texts or emails as valid wills, in ‘exceptional circumstances’;
- Decreasing the age at which a person could make a valid will, from 18 to 16;
- Replace the test for capacity (as the one currently used dates back to a case decided in 1870) with that contained in the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
It is proposing a new Wills Act, which would replace the existing version passed in 1837. All of the ideas are still at consultation stage.
I would sound a strong note of caution in relation to the proposals, on the basis that they are arguably ill-conceived and have the air of change for change’s sake.
They may well lead to an increase in contested probate matters (which will incur greater costs for clients) owing to the changes creating greater uncertainty amongst the general public, rather than alleviating it. There is nothing wrong with understanding that if something is not broken, there is little point in trying to fix it.
Our competitive charges (from £125 plus VAT for a single will and from £175 for mirror wills) make it even easier to gain peace of mind. If you haven’t made a will, call us for a no-obligation chat on 0113 284 5000.