Modernising Wills Law To Reflect Challenging Landscape

The Law Society and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have been working hard in recent weeks to consider short and long term ways of amending the 1837 Wills Act to reflect the constraints we now face because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The outbreak of Covid-19 has not suddenly sparked the legal sector to consider the practicality of a Victorian law in a modern technological world.  The Law Commission’s 2017 ‘Making a Will’ review looked at the flaws in the current system and potential improvements which could be made.

It is these recommendations that are being considered by the Law Society and the MoJ at present.

The ongoing discussions are considering the practical changes which could be made in the short term to provide assurances that the strained ways people are making wills, whilst complying with social distancing measures, are considered valid by the law, as well as the longer term changes which should be considered in order for Wills law to recognise the current ways people communicate and live their lives.

The Law Society is clear that discussions are ongoing and all realistic options are being considered.

What are the options they are debating and what is the likelihood of them being employed quickly to help ease the creation of valid Wills during the epidemic?

Complying with section 9 of the 1837 Wills Act has been a difficult task in recent months.  Remaining a distance of two metres away from other people, staying indoors wherever possible and avoiding contact with other households makes the concept of two separate, independent witnesses a bit challenging to say the least.

Despite this, our inspirational profession has found a number of workarounds to facilitate a near impossible balance of complying with Wills law and governmental distancing measures.

The sector has utilised garden will signings, over the fence witnessing techniques, ‘drive thru’ style  signings and even car park signings.