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Electronic wills now ‘feasible’, Law Commission reports

By Michael Cross >>

(5 October 2023)

Electronic wills could become an immediate reality if parliament wishes, the Law Commission states today in its latest consultation on the topic. The commission is seeking views on whether a new Wills Act should permit paperless wills, either immediately or by allowing for them to be introduced later. It stresses that any provision for electronic wills would need to ensure that they are as secure as paper wills.

In its consultation document the commission notes that technological advancements and the effects of pandemic restrictions have made digitally signed electronic wills more feasible. During the pandemic, several countries, including the UK, allowed paper wills to be witnessed virtually. Since then, some countries have introduced permanent reforms to enable electronic wills.

Today’s paper is part of a wider review to ensure that the legislative framework governing wills – currently based on the Wills Act 1837 and case law – reflects contemporary needs.

The commission is also seeking views on the issue of ‘predatory marriages’ – in particular on whether a marriage or civil partnership should continue to revoke a pre-existing will. 

Professor Nicholas Hopkins, commissioner for property, family and trust law, said: ‘Our review of wills aims to ensure that the law is modern and as straightforward as possible, protecting the most vulnerable and giving greater effect to everyone’s last wishes.

‘In light of recent technological and societal developments, we are seeking views on electronic wills and the effects of predatory marriage on wills. We welcome a wide range of responses.’

The deadline for responses is 8 December 2023.  

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)