Law Commission consultation on the barriers to making a will - send us your views

The Law Commission has launched a consultation Making a Will to consider whether the format of and process for making a will should be revised. ICAEW Business Law Committee would like your help in formulating a response.

 

The proposed reforms are designed to ensure that everyone can make a will easily and that everyone, particularly the vulnerable (such as dementia sufferers), are protected from being coerced into making a will that either does not reflect their wishes or fraudulently disinherits those who could reasonably expect to benefit from it. There is no recommendation to make will writing a reserved legal activity.

 

No doubt we have all read or seen enough detective novels/films to be aware of the fictional problems regarding lost wills, duplicate wills, forged wills and the resultant (murderous!) disputes. But what is the reality? We should be grateful if you would help us sift the fiction from the fact.

 

The consultation is open until 10 November 2017, but we would appreciate your comments well in advance of the deadline. In particular we would like evidence of the following:

 

  1. The impact of the current system on the drafting, preparing and execution of wills. Does it for example prevent people from making a will? Is it causing distress or hardship?
  2. Are there other reasons why people do not make a will?
  3. Do you have any evidence to support the view that the most common reason people do not make a will is because they do not know that they need to make one? If this is the case how can it be addressed?
  4. Are the current rules on intestacy fit for purpose? We would welcome any details of instances where the current rules have caused unnecessary hardship and ways this could be addressed.
  5. What sort of disputes over wills have you come across and are these caused or exacerbated by the current law? How could they have been avoided?
  6. Do you have any evidence to suggest that allowing electronic wills and/or electronic signatures would encourage more people to make a will?
  7. Do you have any experience of when the inability to find a will has caused insurmountable problems in ensuring that the testator’s wishes were respected after their death? Would a mandatory central registry of wills help (along the lines of the Land Registry) or would this cause more problems than it solves?

 

Please email Jane Berney (jane.berney@icaew.com) with your thoughts on the above or any other aspects of the current system for making a will.