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Cyber Wills – A future for electronic wills?

30 August 2017

In July 2017 the Law Commission published a report that described the current law of Wills as outdated and in need of an ‘overhaul’ to reflect the modern world

Ideas put forward included lowering the age one can make a Will to 16, a new mental capacity test, and simplifying the strict formalities with the introduction of ‘electronic Wills’.

The idea would be that, as long as a person’s wishes are clearly expressed, the criteria that are currently necessary for Wills to be valid would be softened, so that their wishes could be followed once they’ve died. Currently more than 40% of UK adults do not have a Will, and so families are forced to distribute their loved one’s estate in accordance with the rules of intestacy, which may, in some cases, be exactly what they didn’t want to happen.

But is there not a risk that making e-Wills could possibly give rise to fraud? The current requirement for 2 witnesses to be present ensures that the person who signs the Will is the same as the person who is making it. If someone can simply complete an online form, who’s to say that they couldn’t complete that form on behalf of someone else who may not be aware that they’re having a Will made for them at all?

The consultation period has only just begun, so the specific plans and requirements for e-Wills will inevitably be ironed out over the coming months – it will be interesting to see how a law that was put in place over 100 years ago will be updated to reflect the modern age of computers.

For more information about how to make your Will legally sound, and how to ensure your wishes are followed when you die, contact one of our expert solicitors on 01270 625478.

To see the Law Commission’s report or to contribute to the consultation visit https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/outdated-law-of-wills-needs-overhaul-to-reflect-modern-world/

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