The Law Commission, the independent government body that reviews and recommends changes to the law, has suggested that the law of wills is outdated and reflects Victorian values rather than modern practices and methods of communication. They propose that in future emails, texts and voicemail recordings may become legally binding records of a will. The consultation says: “A person who is seriously ill in hospital may have more immediate access to a tablet or smartphone than to a pen and paper, and may be more able to speak than to write.”
However, enabling wills to be made in this way raises issues of security (how is a digital signature recognised as valid?) and could lead to an increase in claims of fraud and undue influence over vulnerable people.
Other proposals include re-defining the Victorian test of “delusions of the mind” when assessing a person’s capacity to make a will. Modern diagnosis of dementia accepts that a person may have clear periods of lucidity during which they are perfectly able make a will.
And to reflect the fact that there are people aged under 18 who may be living on their own, with a job and even a family but who under the current law are not able to make a will, there is a proposal to lower the age for making a from 18 to 16 years.
For more information please visit: WILLS, PROBATE AND POWERS OF ATTORNEY