17 January 2024

What are your views on electronic Wills?

By Miranda Marshall, Director, Hayes + Storr.

The Law Commission has produced a consultation paper on ‘Making a Will’. The Commission is seeking views on the possible introduction of electronic Wills. The consultation paper was published in early October and is part of a wider Wills review project.

The law on Wills is primarily a product of the Victorian era and is governed by the Wills Act 1837 and case law. The Commission tell us that their project aims to provide a comprehensive review to ensure that the legislative framework governing Wills reflects contemporary needs, continues to protect the most vulnerable and gives effect to everyone’s last wishes.

The idea is that in the light of technological and societal changes being able to make your Will electronically might be for the public good. Views are also sought on whether marriage or civil partnership should continue automatically to revoke a Will in the light of concerns about predatory marriage and vulnerable people.

The Commission asks the practical questions of how and when should bespoke requirements for these Wills be introduced.

Technological advances and the effects of Covid-19 restrictions have made electronic Wills more feasible. During the pandemic several countries, including England, allowed paper Wills to be witnessed virtually. Since then, some other countries have introduced legal reforms to enable electronic Wills. The idea is that an electronic Will would be able to be created digitally, using electronic signatures, and be stored, with no paper version needed.

The consultation understands that the process and signing of an electronic Will would need to be as secure as a paper Will.

As a self-admitted paper junkie with 30+ years of comfort in paper (preferably best quality vellum and bound by hand!) this feels very alien to me. I think that most of my clients will be happier with a paper Will but, as the digital natives take over from the digital immigrants, the position will surely change.

A long time ahead in a solicitors’ office far far away someone will be the last person in England to make a paper Will, perhaps?

For further information, please contact Miranda Marshall in the private client team on 01263 712835​ or email miranda.marshall@hayes-storr.com.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.