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The Law Commission - possible reforms to making a will

View profile for Claire Read
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The Law Commission has released a 300 page consultation about possible reforms to making a will. Wow! Does it mean that change is upon us? And will this change be for the better?  Over the next few weeks we will do a series of blogs on the Law Commission’s proposals. 

One area for possible change is a softening of the rules so the Testator’s (the person who made the will) intentions and wishes can be approved by the court under special powers, even if they are not in accordance with the strict rules for making or signing a will.

I currently have a good example to explain this consultation proposal. The Testator made a valid homemade will many years ago. However, a few years before his death, he must have had a change of heart and handwrote another document stating that it was his last will. This new document was not in the same format as the first will because he did not sign it and he did not get it witnessed. As such, because the formalities were not followed, we must follow the first will. If the consultation proposal is accepted, it could be argued that the Testator intended for these updated wishes to take effect. The executors of the first will would be put in a very difficult position - which ill should they follow? Although I like the idea that a court can decide on the evidence what the Testator wanted, I am fearful that it will create more uncertainty and increase litigation.    

Claire Read is based at our Chelmsford office and can be reached on 01245 453835 or email claire.read@birkettlong.co.uk 

 

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