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Bringing the Law of Wills Up-To-Date


The Law Commission of England and Wales has launched a consultation exercise over proposals to reform the law of wills in England and Wales.
The Commission describes the current laws as being out of touch with the modern way of living and believes they are no longer fit for purpose.
There is also a concern that the current laws might actually being deterring people from writing a will, as around 40% of adults who die each year have not got a will in place governing the distribution of their assets.
The Law Commission has therefore put forward a number of proposals that:

- suggest that the age for making a will should be lowered from 18 to 16,

- relax the strict formality rules,

- modernise the mental capacity test to reflect current understanding of diseases such as dementia, and

- facilitate the introduction of electronic wills.

“Making a will and passing on your possessions after you’ve died should be straight-forward,” explained Law Commissioner Professor Nick Hopkins. “But the law is unclear, outdated and could even be putting people off altogether.”
“Even when it’s obvious what someone wanted, if they haven’t followed the strict rules, courts can’t act on it,” he said. “And conditions which affect decision-making – like dementia – aren’t properly accounted for in the law.”
“That’s not right and we want an overhaul to bring the law into the modern world,” he added. “Our provisional proposals will not only clarify things legally, but will also help to give greater effect to people’s last wishes.”

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