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Consultation over Proposed Will-Writing Reforms

The Law Society of England and Wales has welcomed the launch of a public consultation exercise by the Law Commission over proposed reforms to the laws relating to will-writing.

The consultation seeks views on a range of issues around how wills are made in England and Wales and how the law protects will-makers from fraud.

“While the basics of how we make wills have stood the test of time, other aspects are in urgent need of updating to reflect modern life, and this will be a welcome opportunity for solicitors to help shape a new, fit for purpose wills law,” commented Law Society president Joe Egan.

Key issues raised in the consultation paper include:

  • Giving the court greater flexibility to uphold wills that do not meet legal requirements
  • Using the Mental Capacity Act test to establish capacity to write a will
  • Introducing a statutory presumption of capacity to write a will
  • Reducing the age at which someone can make a will from 18 to 16
  • The possibility of online or electronic will-writing in the future

"Some of the proposals, such as allowing the court more flexibility when there are harmless errors in a will but the deceased person's wishes are clear, show immediate promise and are likely to get a positive response from solicitors," explained president Joe Egan.

"Others, such as enabling wills to be made electronically in the future, raise important but challenging questions, especially on how safe electronic wills would be from fraud or undue influence against vulnerable people,” he added.

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