The Modern Will
Are we ready for the “Modern” Will? Can we rely on technology? The Law that governed the making of Wills dates back to 1837. As a result, the Law Commission recently conducted a review and consultation has now closed. Next year, the Commission will make proposals based on any responses received.
One suggestion is that we will see the emergence of the electronic Will, which raises concerns. One of the main formalities of making a Will is that the person making it signs it. The formalities also include a requirement to sign in the presence of two independent witnesses. This required the presence of all 3 people at the signing, which in the early 19th century, and even more recently, seemed perfectly reasonable. The issue now is that the world runs at a much faster pace, and technology is at the forefront of our progression. The idea of getting people together to sign a document may seem outdated and misplaced within today’s society. Therefore, the question is, is it possible to electronically sign a Will?
Claims against deceased people’s estates are on the rise. Therefore, it is even more important to be sure that a person’s last wishes were in fact theirs. One of the reasons for requiring an original hand signed Will is that there leaves very little room for doubt that the deceased made that Will. Can technology provide that reassurance? How can we ensure that Wills are not tampered with or even completely falsified? If it is possible to ensure the validity and security of a person’s Will then maybe we could see the rise of the electronic Will.
There are solutions to the concerns such as passwords, pins and digital signatures. However, these too have issues that would need resolve and to what cost?
The likelihood is that electronic wills will eventually be introduced. However, this is unlikely to happen any time soon and, realistically, could take quite some time.
Watch this space!