There is currently a move by the Law Commission for England and Wales to change the existing rules surrounding Wills.
The current law in England and Wales that governs Wills is mainly derived from the Wills Act 1837.
The law of Wills needs to be modernised to take account of the changes in society, technology and medical understanding that have taken place since the Victorian era. For example we now have an ageing population and a higher incidence of dementia, but we also have the medical understanding of this disorder to know how it could affect a person’s capacity to make a Will; changing patterns of family life, for example, more cohabiting couples and more people having second families; and more people now have sufficient property to make it important to control who inherits after their death.
It is estimated that 40% of people die without making a Will or have something in their Will that isn’t clear so the courts cannot act on it. The commission believes the current ‘unclear rules’ could be putting people off from making a Will.
The commission wants to consider whether texts, emails and other electronic communications should be recognised as a valid Will in exceptional circumstances.
Everyone should have a Will, but it is even more important if you have children, you own property or have savings, investments, insurance policies or you own a business.
After all we spend our lives working to provide for ourselves and our loved ones. So it is important that all our assets are shared according to our wishes when we die.
If you die without a valid Will the ‘Rules of Intestacy’ will divide your estate in a pre-determined way, which could mean that people who you wished to benefit may not inherit anything from your estate. It also may not be carried out in the most tax-efficient way.