News & Insights

Victorian era to modern day: Is the law of Wills outdated?

The law that governs wills in England and Wales is the Wills Act 1837, legislation which is nearly 200 years old.

The Law Commission are of the view that this area of law is outdated and have therefore been consulting on proposals to ease the strict rules. Their prime concern is protecting the vulnerable which the Wills Act 1837 does not currently achieve. The Law Commission also aims to bring the law in line with the modern day and incorporate the evolution of technology.

It is estimated that 40% of adults die without a will (‘intestate’) and it is considered that the complexities of the law discourages people from making wills.

The Law Commission are considering the following changes:-

  • A new mental capacity test which reflects the modern understandings of health conditions such as dementia.
  • Abolishing the term ‘testator’ to ‘will maker’
  • Age for making a will lowered from 18 to 16
  • The possibility for electronic wills to be recognised in the modern world.
  • Whether the rule of marriage revoking a will to be retained or abolished
  • To give the Courts the power to recognise a will where formalities have not been followed, but the will-maker has made their wishes clear.

An update on the progress of implementing these changes to follow…

Should you wish to speak further about this with someone, then please contact our Wills and Probate Team.