Law Society wades into debate on will reform

Leading figures within the legal profession have had their say on a set of draft proposals which would mean major changes to will writing legislation.

Earlier this month, a consultation into suggestions by the Law Commission to make sweeping changes to existing laws came to a close.

The Law Society was among the industry bodies which made a submission as part of the exercise, with the organisation acknowledging that more should be done to recognise people’s final wishes.

In its response, the society said: “Our tentative initial view is that the scope of any dispensing provision in English law should be drawn widely.

“Were a dispensing power to be introduced, there are strong arguments that it should apply not only to traditional written documents, but also where testators express their testamentary intentions in an electronic format, as well as in an audio or audio-visual recording.”

The body has insisted, however, that any such change should be dependent on appropriate safeguards being put in place to prevent fraud.

The draft proposals also call for the age at which someone can make a will to be reduced to 16 and for current laws relating to testamentary capacity to take account of the Mental Capacity Act introduced more than a decade ago.

Supporters of reform argue that current legislation is very much rooted in the Victorian era and it is only appropriate that the framework is updated for modern times.

However, some solicitors have raised concerns that the changes could drive the public into the hands of unregulated providers.

For advice on making or updating a Will, please contact our head of Private Client Richard Denton or visit our website.

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