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Will Law - outdated and in need of change?

View profile for Ellie Wright
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A recent news article on BBC News titled ‘Will Law should be brought into the ‘modern world’ discusses how the Law Commission for England and Wales believes the current rules governing Will Law to be ‘unclear’ and puts people off from making a will. HCB Solicitors are in agreement with this view.

The Wills Act came into force in 1837 therefore it is understandable why the current rules are viewed as outdated. As the current law stands, to make a valid will the will must:

  • be made in writing,
  • by a person over the age of 18,
  • with full capacity,
  • singed,
  • in the presence of two independent witnesses,
  • And the two independent witnesses must also sign in the presence of the testator.

The proposals put forward by the Law Commission aims to avoid the formalities of a will and to allow methods such texts or emails to be a sufficient and valid way for people to express their intentions of how they want their estate to be dealt with. These proposals seem to address circumstances where someone is involved in a tragic, fatal accident and has not made a formal will but it is clear what the deceased wanted. The proposals also looks to address changing the test for capacity to make a will to take into account the modern understanding of conditions like dementia.

The proposals, if successful, could be seen as a real improvement to the current situation if it does encourage more people to express their intentions. As it stands, the only way to make sure that you leave your property and assets to the people you want is to make a formal will. When a person dies and no will is made, there a certain rules that dictate how their property, assets etc is left which could be against their wishes. These rules don’t take into account unmarried couples, cohabitees, and if there is no surviving relatives, the estate passes to the crown. Distributing an estate by these rules can also often cause disputes and distress to a family. The proposals seek to avoid this from happening and give effect to the deceased’s true wishes.

However it is uncertain when and if these changes will take effect therefore the only way to ensure that your estate is distributed how you wish is to make a will.  Though the outdated rules may be off-putting, with the help of specialist probate solicitors, the process is made simple, straightforward and stress free.  If you wish to make a will, please contact our specialist Probate department at HCB Solicitors.