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The current wills process needs to be reformed to make it fit for purpose in the modern world, a leading lawyer has warned.
Andrew Wilkinson, a partner and head of the wills dispute team at Lime Solicitors, says the existing system is too complex, leads to family members and charities missing out on bequests and results in estates passing under the intestacy rules.
Writing in The Times newspaper, Mr Wilkinson says he would like to see some of the formalities associated with making a will relaxed.
“Having a witness is a good idea – it gives a degree of protection against people being pressured into making wills,” he comments. “However, as it stands, wills have to have two witnesses present at the same time. Why can one witness not be enough? That might avoid some disputes on cases with arguments about whether witnesses were in the same place at the same time, which happens surprisingly frequently, particularly with homemade wills.”
Making the case for electronic wills, Mr Wilkinson also suggests digital technology could offer improved ways of verifying identity and someone’s wishes after their death.
“Why not have a will-making app?” he adds. “While it might not be suitable for everyone, surely it will work for a large proportion of the population?”