Writing a will is something too few people get around to. It is estimated that some 40 per cent of adults never write one. And this matters because if you die without making a will – which is called dying ‘intestate’ – then it is by no means certain that your loved ones will inherit your estate.
Every year, the Treasury makes millions from the estates of people who have died without leaving a will – money that could have gone to their nearest and dearest, or to a beneficiary of their choice.
So it is good news that the government is looking at ways to simplify the will making process, in the hope that more people will be encouraged to write one.
The Law Commission has been looking at the law of wills and thinking of ways to modernise it. It has consulted on proposals to soften the strict formality rules, a new mental capacity test which takes into account the modern understanding of conditions like dementia, and a suggestion that the age for making a will should be lowered from 18 to 16.
The Commission also wants to pave the way for the introduction of electronic wills, to better reflect the modern world.
In Australia recently, a court accepted an unsent, draft text message on a dead man’s mobile phone as an official will. The man had composed a text message addressed to his brother, in which he gave “all that I have” to his brother and nephew. The message was found in the drafts folder on the man’s phone after he took his own life.
At Optimum, we think modernising the will making process is an excellent idea. The law in England and Wales that governs wills is, in large part, a product of the 19th century: the main statute is the Wills Act 1837. It really is high time this was updated.
In the meantime, if you haven’t written a will and would like to do so, or if you haven’t updated your will for some time, please get in touch with the legal team for some help and advice. We will help to make the process as simple and straightforward as possible.