At the end of last year, The Law Commission held a consultation into modernising the law around Wills and Testaments which ended on the 10th November 2017.
It is considering all the information gathered on the proposals and analyse these with another potential consultation stage. However the current proposals being discussed could mean a decrease in the amount of Wills being made in the now traditional way of visiting a solicitors office and instead being created at home, online or by unregulated will writers.
As the Article states, the proposals aim to shake up the area of will-writing. The Law Commission want the area to reflect the modern, 21st century way of living, which is clearly seen with the proposal for electronic Wills. This would be a stark contrast from the traditional method of seeing your local solicitor to draw up your wishes, with instead it being possible to do so from the comfort of your living room. The more cautious and traditionalists amongst us may decide that this is not for them, but with ever increasing technology and busy lifestyles, an electronic Will may well be the people’s choice. This will have an effect on the footfall seen in the waiting room in the solicitor’s office however it may just mean that firms will have to adapt with the times. It may be seen as an opportunity for firms rather than a threat.
In addition to the electronic Wills, the proposal that the court may dispense with the formalities for creating a Will when it is clear what the deceased intended is an interesting thought. This may open the door to more homemade ‘DIY’ Wills, with people believing that they no longer need a professional to create them. This is likely to have an impact in the amount of people visiting the solicitors’ office to make a Will initially. The reforms concerning the area will have to be clear and concise and set out what actually constitutes ‘a valid will’ and when the formalities can be dispensed with. It is likely that initially, people may create their Will elsewhere, but it will be the solicitors who will be picking up the pieces with the contentious probate issues further down the line, when establishing whether a Will is valid or not.
A final note would be that the proposals look to increase the burden on professional will-writers to establish capacity amongst other issues when writing a Will. This will cause the costs of preparing and drafting a Will to increase and naturally that will cause potential clients to a solicitors firm to look elsewhere. As will-writing is an unregulated activity, the benefactors in this scenario could well be the will-writers who are uninsured and unqualified. This is highlighted in the article and is likely to take clients away from the traditional professional practice.