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The Impact of Technology on Will Making

The Law Commission for England and Wales recently conducted a public consultation exercise over reforms to the laws governing will writing in England and Wales.

The consultation closed on 10th November, and a number of interested organisations have now published details of their responses to this consultation.

One such organisation is the Institute of Legacy Management, which has raised concerns that the Law Commission’s consultation fails to pay sufficient attention to the increasing impact of technology on will making and the impact this may have on legacy giving.

According to the Institute, the growing trend towards writing wills through the use of technology was already affecting the probate process, but the consultation failed to acknowledge this, and the issues it may cause. 

The consultation proposes that the Lord Chancellor is given the power to introduce fully electronic wills by statutory instrument, without specifying a timeline or the level of public consultation this would involve. 

“Our members are already seeing the consequences of wills made online, and as we become more reliant on technology, this is likely to increase,” explained Chris Millward, Chief Executive of the Institute of Legacy Management. “There is a risk of badly drawn up wills resulting in donors’ final wishes being frustrated, and failing, meaning charities and their beneficiaries miss out on vital support. The introduction of fully electronic wills would complicate the process further.” 

“The law needs to catch up quicker with the changing way people are writing wills,” he added. “We can embrace technology while retaining essential safeguards and standards to make sure such wills are legally robust and vulnerable people are protected. Tighter regulation and standardisation of online will-writing platforms would help achieve this.” 

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