Much of the current law relating to Wills dates back to the time of Queen Victoria – the Wills Act 1837. The Law Commission, which is a non-political body, was set up by Parliament in 1965 to keep all the law of England and Wales under review, and to recommend reform where it is needed. Part of their remit is to determine whether any changes are necessary to keep pace with modern life and they have recently announced that they will be focusing on four main areas in Will writing. It has been estimated that 40% or more of the adult population do not have a Will and if they do have a Will in place, problems with the existing law can mean that they are not always valid.
Wills & Tax Associate Heather Varley, “If a Will is invalid or there is no Will, the deceased’s property is distributed in a way that they may not have wanted and may not provide support for the family. Couples who co-habit are particularly at risk, as the law gives no protection if their partner dies without a valid Will.”
The four key areas that the Law Commission will focus on are:
- Testamentary capacity – a Will can be challenged if there are doubts about the mental capacity of the person who made it. This is a difficult area and can lead to complicated and expensive disputes
- Formalities for a valid Will – the current strict rules that dictate how a will is written and signed
- Rectification of Wills – when a person makes a mistake when drawing up a Will and how it would be possible to rectify this
- Mutual Wills
It is hoped that this review and the subsequent law, will reduce the number of disputed Wills which are distressing and costly to those involved. A draft Bill is hoped to be produced in early 2018.
We have offices in the Christchurch, New Milton and the New Forest. Our Wills & Tax team also cover Bournemouth and Poole. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Heather or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.