News

Making a Will…..by text?

  • October 05, 2017
  • By Hunters Law

The headlines over the summer following the launch of the Law Commission consultation on Wills caused a lot of people to prick up their ears.

One of the key matters up for debate is the formality required to make a Will.  The law on this subject has certainly stood the test of time, being set out in the Wills Act 1837.  After 180 years the legislation remains remarkably unaltered.  Subject to a few rare exceptions, a Will must be:

(i)       in writing,

(ii)     signed by the testator, and

(iii)   witnessed by two independent people.

A Will can be handwritten in any language, in pen or pencil, on any writing material or even on an object.  In a case back in 1926, a Will written on an empty eggshell was found to be valid.  A recent case in Canada allowed a Will written on a tractor fender to be proved. The “writing” can be any mode of representing or reproducing words in any form. So why not by text? Or by emoji?!

Despite the headlines, Wills by text are not actually amongst the Law Commission’s proposals in their 284-page consultation document.  However, one proposal of the Commission is that in some extreme and very limited circumstances, the courts should be given power to dispense with the usual strict formalities of making Wills so that records demonstrating that person’s wishes, whether by text, email, video or audio recording, might be allowed as evidence of how they wish their estate to pass.  This would not however be the “norm”.

The Commission is though envisaging the introduction in due course of “electronic Wills”; that is Wills which have been signed and witnessed in electronic form. This might well become the norm, but still recognising the practical challenges which would first need to be overcome.  One proposal is that the law be changed to allow Wills to be made electronically, as and when there is sufficient protection and security in place; the details would be left to future legislation.

The public consultation ends on 10th November 2017.  If you wish to give your views please visit https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/wills/.  If the proposed new law on Wills is to enjoy as long a life as its predecessor this will be your only chance.

Related News

Jan 25, 2022
Flora Nelmes discusses the steps involved in insuring an unoccupied property following a death in Lawyer Monthly
Jan 17, 2022
Probate Application Fee Increase
Dec 13, 2021
Flora Nelmes says that clients should review their existing wills and consider IHT opportunities with the RNRB to remain fixed until April 2026 in Accountancy Daily
Dec 01, 2021
Flora Nelmes discusses the opportunities to review existing wills and explore IHT, as the residence nil rate band is to remain frozen until April 2026, in Lawyer Monthly
Oct 28, 2021
Doubling of time limit for payment of CGT on residential property transactions
Sep 30, 2021
Hunters recognised in Spear’s 2021 Tax & Trust Advisors Index
Sep 30, 2021
Sunir Watts explains how to make use of inheritance tax gift exemptions in Taxation
Sep 21, 2021
Harriet Murray examines whether a wealth tax is the way to pay for the pandemic in Accountancy Daily
Sep 20, 2021
Louise Garrett discusses the proposed increase in probate fees in WealthBriefing
Sep 17, 2021
Molly Wills discusses Lasting Power of Attorneys in Hamilton George Care

© Hunters Law LLP 2022 | Privacy NoticeLegal & Regulatory | Cookies Policy | Complaints Procedure.

Hunters Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (number 657218)