Wills – Reforming the law for the Twenty-First Century

Much of the law that applies to wills in this country was made in 1837.  Time for a review perhaps?  The Law Commission certainly thinks so.

On 13 July, the Commission outlined proposals to overhaul the law.

The proposals include:

  • Giving the court power to recognise a will in cases where the rules on formalities, as provided under the Wills Act 1837, have not been followed but the testator has made clear their intentions.
  • An overhaul of the rules protecting those making a will from being unduly influenced by another person.
  • Applying the test of capacity in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to the question of whether a person has the capacity to make a will.
  • Providing statutory guidance for doctors and other professionals conducting an assessment of whether a person has the required mental capacity to make a will.
  • Giving the Lord Chancellor power to make provision for electronic wills.
  • Lowering the age at which people are able to make a will from 18 to 16 years old.

There is a consultation period from now until November.

Jill Waddington, head of Ridley & Hall’s private client department, said the reforms are long overdue:

“Whilst the current rules need to be modernised to take account of changes in society, technology and medical understanding, all of which have changed beyond recognition since 1837 it is still as important as ever to take proper legal advice and have a valid Will in place to reflect your wishes.”

Ridley & Hall have an expert private client team www.ridleyhall.co.uk/our-services/wills-and-probate who can offer specialist legal advice on all aspects of wills and estate planning.

If you require legal help or advice, please contact Jill Waddington on 01484 558833.

Jill Waddington