On 4 July 2017, the Court published a blog that discusses how they intend to digitise probate applications by introducing a new online application form for personal applicants and solicitors. Research into how the service will operate began on 15 June 2017 and will run for approximately 6 months. Updates to follow.
Whereas on 13 July 2017, the Law Commission published its consultation on the law of Wills. In discussions are proposals to introduce a system for assisting those who, with support, would have the capacity to make a Will, by giving the Court the power to dispense with the Will formalities as set out in s.37 Wills Act 1837. The main formalities are that the Will must be in writing and signed by the person making the Will in the presence of two witnesses who must also sign the Will. As part of this, the consultation discusses giving the Courts power to allow electronically executed Wills or fully electronic Wills to be recognised as valid. The Law Commission must, of course, be mindful of the balance between providing safeguards for vulnerable persons wishing to make a Will and making Wills easier to execute. This means that the proposed reforms will not go ahead until there is adequate technology in place to meet such safeguards.
Whilst both proposals are simply in discussion for now and depend on the outcome of ongoing research, both could have a significant impact into the way in which probate applications are dealt with and Wills are executed.
Given the reforms, we would always advise seeking assistance from a solicitor if applying for Probate or in drafting your Will to ensure all formalities have been adhered to. Fosters have a dedicated Wills, Trusts and Probate team who are ready to help you and we look forward to hearing from you.
For full information on making a Will or applying for Probate contact our Wills Trust and Probate Team using the email link at the top of the website. Alternatively you can call our dedicated team on 01603 620508.