The Law Commission Report: Electronic Wills and Predatory Marriages

Electronic wills computer

Advances in technology and the effects of COVID-19 restrictions have made electronic Wills a lot more feasible. Wills and Probate Solicitor, Charlotte Day, discusses The Law Commission Report on electronic Wills and predatory marriages in her latest blog…

Electronic Wills

The Law Commission is exploring whether it should become possible for an individual to make a valid Will electronically in the future.

The current legislation concerning the validity of a Will can be found in section 9 of the Wills Act 1837.

Whilst many might agree that a review of legislation which is 186 years old is long overdue, there are concerns from legal practitioners as to whether electronic Wills might be a step too far; particularly for elderly or vulnerable clients.

Some tweaks were made to section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 during the Covid-19 pandemic, but on the whole the legislation has remained unchanged. During the pandemic there was a time where people couldn’t sign their Will in the physical presence of two unrelated witnesses and therefore, for a short period of time, it was possible to sign a Will with the witnesses present virtually via video link.

There were concerns raised at this stage as to whether signing Wills in this manner was a good idea; given that the legal practitioner preparing the Will couldn’t see who else might be in the room, but off camera, perhaps exerting pressure or influence on the person making the Will to give certain instructions. It is likely that in the future there will be a large number of claims by disappointed beneficiaries relating to Wills that were signed by video link.

Many practitioners favoured signing Wills in gardens, or through windows, to avoid the issues that signing Wills by video link may bring.

Whether the Law Commission decides to support a proposal for paperless Wills that can be prepared, signed and stored digitally will be interesting, and there is likely to be much debate on the topic as to the risks involved and what safeguards ought to be put in place.

Predatory Marriages

In the same report, the Law Commission is also seeking views in relation to ‘predatory marriages’. These are marriages that take place between a particularly vulnerable individual and another who can exert influence or control over them, with a view to exploiting them financially.

The law currently provides that a marriage will revoke an existing Will, which means that if a vulnerable person does enter a predatory marriage, then (some or all) of their estate may pass to their new spouse under the Intestacy Rules, rather than to their chosen beneficiaries named in an existing Will. Interestingly, divorce does not revoke a Will.

The Law Commission is now seeking opinions on whether the laws relating to the revocation of a Will by marriage should be overhauled. This is likely to be another keenly debated topic and something that legal practitioners will be monitoring closely.

How Can Timms Help?

If you have any questions about making or updating a Will, please do not hesitate to contact me at or on 01283 214 231.

Charlotte Day Wills & Probate Solicitor

Charlotte Day

October 2023

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