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Views wanted on wills review 

Members of the public are being urged to voice their opinions about texts and emails being used as wills at a Law Commission event.

Old-WillSouthport has been chosen as one of just three locations in the country in which to hold a public presentation and discussion as part of a consultation exercise into a proposed overhaul of the law of wills.

Now Claire Hamilton, from Kirwans law firm in Hoghton Street, is calling on residents to attend the meeting and speak out on matters that will affect everyone at some point. She said:

The law in relation to wills is pretty outdated, and the Law Commission, an independent body which helps advise ministers, is trying to change that through a public consultation which runs until November 10.

This is an important move by the Commission, and the fact that they have chosen Southport to host one of its events is testimony to the weight they attach to residents’ views. 

It has long been accepted that more needs to be done to bring will-related laws up to date, as, as it stands, there are concerns that the system could actually be deterring people from creating the vital documents.

According to the organisation, many people are unaware of crucial will-related legalities, such as the fact that when someone gets married, any previous wills are automatically revoked. Claire said:

The proposals that the Commission has put forward are ground-breaking but necessary. People may have read about, for example, the proposal to create a new power allowing the courts to recognise unconventional wills, such as notes, emails and voicemails, which hit the headlines earlier this year.

It has also suggested adding a new mental capacity test – which determines whether or not a person writing a will understands what they are doing - taking into account the modern understanding of conditions like dementia.

Other proposals include lowering the age for making a will from 18 to 16, and a review of the rules protecting those making a will from being unduly influenced by another person.

Claire said:

With an estimated 40% of adults dying each year without a will, it’s clear that something needs to be done, and public feedback is vital if the Law Commission, and the government in turn, are to create a revised set of laws which cater for 21stcentury needs.

The Law Commission event takes place from 3.30-5pm at the Norwood Room, Southport Community Centre, Norwood Road, Southport on October 13, 2017.

To attend, please email Damien Bruneau at damien.bruneau@lawcommission.gsi.gov.uk