Will Reforms Needed

A well respected influential legacy body argue that proposals put forward by the Law Commission for reforming wills need to urgently address the impact of technology.

In a consultation response to the Law Commission, the Institute of Legacy Management, the membership body for legacy professionals – those responsible for the successful and sensitive administration of donors’ final gifts to charitable organisations, said the Law Commission ‘seems to defer’ all conversation on technology and that the issue needs consideration as the growing trend towards writing wills through technology is already affecting the probate process.

They stated that their consultation highlighted several areas the Law Commission should be looking at with a greater sense of urgency, expressing a concern about the consultation’s approach to the impact of technology. They stated that the commission has failed to acknowledge and promote discussion around the challenges being felt by technology, and that the distribution of digital assets increasing role of technology in the drafting, execution and the storage of wills and the rising number of unregulated providers in this area gives their members cause for concern now.

The consultation suggested that the Lord Chancellor should be given the power to introduce fully electronic wills by statutory instrument, but it warned that it does not ’specify a timeline or the level of public consultation this would involve’.

Chris Millward ILM CEO
Institute of Legacy Management chief executive Chris Millward said: ‘The consultation seems to defer all conversation on technology in the will process, suggesting it’s a future problem. But we know that people writing wills online is having an impact now and requires considerable consideration, fast.’

‘Our members are already seeing the consequences of wills made online, and as we become more reliant on technology, this is likely to increase We can embrace technology while retaining essential safeguards and standards to make sure such wills are legally robust and vulnerable people are protected.’

Millward said tighter regulation and standardisation of online will-writing platforms would help achieve this, an idea solicitors have also backed.

The consultation closed last week and the Law Gazette revealed that this had been one of the Law Commission’s most engaging consultations ever.