Outdated Law of Wills needs to be overhauled and brought into the modern day



On the 13th July 2017 the Law Commission launched a consultation paper to tackle issues surrounding the law of Wills, chiefly aiming to bring Wills into the modern age. The Law Commission has highlighted the age of the current legislation as a root of the problem and suggested that the law needs to be modernised to reflect changes in society, technology and medical understanding – we’ve come a long way since the Wills Act was first introduced in 1837.

WHY THE NEED FOR MODERNISATION?


The underpinning statute for succession law is the Wills Act 1837 (WA 1837). This has been updated over the years as changes in societal norms have called for it, for example the latest significant amendment was the addition of section 18(5) and section 18D to take account of the provisions of The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.

Before that the WA 1837 saw the addition of sections 18B-C to reflect the introduction of Civil Partnerships via the Civil Partnership Act 2004. So while the WA 1837 has been updated over the years, perhaps after nearly 200 years it’s time for a review.

Our understanding of mental health and capacity has also moved forward since the main case setting out the legal test for capacity was decided in 1870 (Banks v Goodfellow [1870] LR 5 QB 549).

Modern families need a more modern approach to succession. More people are cohabiting without marrying or forming a civil partnership, and more people are remarrying and merging families. More needs to be done to address digital legacies and the increased reliance on technology, possibly by introducing electronic Wills in future.


To read the Law Commission's Public consultation, click or paste the link below


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