ILM says Law Commission consultation overlooks problem of digital wills

Concerns have been raised over the Law Commission’s consultation on wills regarding the increasing impact of technology on will making.

In its response to the consultation, the Institute of Legacy Management said the growing trend towards writing wills through the use of technology was already affecting the probate process, but that the consultation failed to acknowledge this, and the issues it may cause.

Chris Millward, Chief Executive of the Institute of Legacy Management, stated: “The consultation seems to defer all conversation on technology in the will process, suggesting it’s a future problem. But we know that people writing wills online is having an impact now and requires considerable consideration, fast.”

The consultation proposes that the Lord Chancellor is given the power to introduce fully electronic wills by statutory instrument, without specifying a timeline or the level of public consultation this would involve.

Millward continued: “Our members are already seeing the consequences of wills made online, and as we become more reliant on technology, this is likely to increase. There is a risk of badly drawn up wills resulting in donors’ final wishes being frustrated, and failing, meaning charities and their beneficiaries miss out on vital support. The introduction of fully electronic wills would complicate the process further.

He went on to highlight the need for a balance to be found between improving accessibility to the process whilst ensuring that consumers are protected.

“The law needs to catch up quicker with the changing way people are writing wills. We can embrace technology while retaining essential safeguards and standards to make sure such wills are legally robust and vulnerable people are protected. Tighter regulation and standardisation of online will-writing platforms would help achieve this.

“We encourage the Law Commission to revisit the issues around online wills as a matter of urgency, and would welcome the chance to discuss this with them further.”

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