Wills reform: Law Commission opens consultation

In its recent consultation document, the Law Commission proposes an overhaul of the bureaucratic, ‘Victorian-era laws’ surrounding wills.

In England and Wales, the law that governs wills is mainly derived from the Wills Act 1837.

A case from 1870 set out the laws that decide when a person has the capacity to make a will.

The Law Commission argues these laws should be modernised to reflect changes in society, technology and medicine since they were passed.

Its proposals include:

  • Change the test for capacity to reflect our ever-ageing population, and advances in the understanding of diseases and disorders such as dementia
  • Provide guidance for doctors and professionals assessing a person’s mental capacity to make a will
  • Give courts the power to recognise wills in cases where the legal procedure hasn’t been followed but the deceased’s intentions are clear
  • Introduce new rules to protect people from being unduly influenced by another person when making a will
  • Lower the age you can legally make a will from 18 to 16
  • Introduce electronic wills to reflect our reliance on digital technology

It’s also asking the public to tell them about their own experiences of disputes over wills, what they think the main barriers to making a will are, and whether the rule that marriage revokes a will should be kept or abolished.

How to respond to the consultation

You can download and respond to the consultation here.

The consultation closes on 10th November 2017.

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