Friday, 28 July 2017

Review of will-making rules is long overdue

Solicitors at a Telford law firm have said a proposed review of will-making laws is good news and is long overdue.

Fiona Mainwaring is the wills specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, and she has welcomed a public consultation by the Law Commission as a positive step towards keeping the rules relevant and effective.

The consultation paper will ask the public about a range of issues around how wills are made and how the law protects will-makers from possible fraud.

“This review is excellent news and it’s a great step forward for the sector as the rules have not been updated for many years,” said Mrs Mainwaring.

“Now the public will get the chance to have their say on how they want the rules to adapt to meet their needs in the 21st Century, and as lawyers dealing with wills on a day-to-day basis, we believe it’s not before time.”

The Law Society says although the basics of how people make wills have essentially stood the test of time, other aspects needed to be urgently updated to reflect modern life. They said the consultation was a chance for solicitors to help shape a new, fit-for-purpose wills law.

Law Society President, Joe Egan, said: “We congratulate the Law Commission on tackling this important law reform task and thank them for the open and constructive way they have been working with our experts. We look forward to working with them as it continues.”

Key issues raised in the consultation paper include:
* Giving the court greater flexibility to uphold wills that don’t meet legal requirements
* Using the Mental Capacity Act test to establish someone’s capacity to write a will
* Reducing the age that someone can make a will from 18 to 16
* The possibility of online or electronic will writing in the future

But Mrs Mainwaring said there were some careful considerations to be made about the way wills may be put together in the future.

“The question of making wills electronically is a brave but inevitable step, but of course the review will need to consider closely how safe electronic wills would be from fraud or unfair influence against vulnerable people.

“We applaud the Law Commission for its refreshing and forward-thinking approach, and we look forward to hearing the results of their research.”