e-Wills. Is leaving your Will by text the way to go?

e-Wills. Is leaving your Will by text the way to go?

e-Wills. Should you be making your Will using your mobile?

On the 13 July 2017 the Law Commission, a statutory body created to keep the law of England and Wales under review, launched a Public Consultation aimed at bringing the law relating to Wills in line with modern society. The Consultation will remain open until 10 November 2017.

The current law that governs Wills is mainly taken from an Act of Parliament known as the Wills Act 1837, which is 180 years old. The Wills Act 1837 sets out the various legal formalities for making a Will, including a requirement that there must be two witnesses to a Will. Is this Act out dated given that it was devised in the early part of the 19th Century?

With the advance of modern technology the consultation includes a plan to pave the way forward to feature electronic communication as a means of making a Will. However, is it appropriate it to be able to draw up electronic Wills by text?

Whilst there were no tablets, texts or emails in 1837, there are still numerous potential problems of drawing up electronic Wills.

A Will which sets out your last wishes needs careful consideration. Emails and texts are often sent in haste and without the same thought process as a physically written and signed document. Furthermore, how can you be certain that a particular message, thought to be the deceased’s last wishes, was not later changed by email or by text?

Allowing Wills to be made electronically could significantly increase the number of challenges to Wills. ‘Do It Yourself’ Wills already cause considerable litigation each year. Making a Will yourself, without any professional involvement, may be cheaper than using a professional but a single mistake can result in considerable stress and expense for the deceased’s family at a time of bereavement. Many DIY Wills fail to appoint Executors, therefore omitting someone to administer the estate. DIY Wills may fail to deal with all of the estate and cause what is known as ‘partial intestacy’. Many fail to provide for changes in circumstances, such as the death of a beneficiary prior to the person making the Will.

Making a Will electronically could increase the risk of your legacy being eaten away by legal costs or unnecessary tax, particularly since the new Inheritance Tax Rules were introduced in April 2017.

You may believe you are saving money for either yourself or your family by making a DIY Will, but that saving could turn into bigger legal expenses due to an invalid Will. Isn’t it better to set your Will out correctly, to ensure your estate is dealt with as you wish?

It is important to see a solicitor specialising in Wills who can advise on tax planning and make sure that your Will covers all issues which are relevant to you. Failure to instruct a solicitor to prepare your Will can cause considerable headache and hardship for those left to sort out the problems on death.

We at Winston Solicitors specialise in Wills and are happy to discuss making a Will with you on a completely free, no obligation basis. Please call our team on 0113 320 5000 or email wills@winstonsolicitors.co.uk