Over the last few months, the Government has launched several consultations/inquiries regarding Wills and Probate.
Making a will: a supplementary consultation paper
The Law Society launched their Supplementary Consultation Paper on 5 October 2023, and the consultation period ran until 8 December 2023. The Commission consulted on possible reforms to enable electronic wills and to the rule that a marriage or civil partnership revokes a will, having previously consulted on reforming the law of wills in 2017. The project was then paused between 2019 and 2022.
I submitted Lifetime Lawyers’ formal response to the consultation in December.
The Justice Committee launched a new inquiry into probate amid concerns over delays and consumer protection and the period for submitting evidence ended on 22 January.
The waiting time for probate almost doubled from April 2022 to April 2023, with reports citing cases of probate taking more than eleven months and practitioners advising clients that probate will take at least nine months.
The cross-party committee of MPs took evidence on capacity, resources and delays across the probate service, the impact of digitisation, centralisation and innovation, including the effectiveness of the online probate portal.
The inquiry is examining people’s experiences of applying for probate including how effectively beneficiaries, executors and the bereaved are supported through the process and protected from rogue traders. It will also analyse performance data relating to the Probate Registry.
A number of you responded to share your experiences which formed the basis of the response I submitted on 22 January following our rebrand.
Storage and retention of original will documents
The Ministry of Justice has launched a further consultation on the storage and retention of wills and other documents submitted in applications for probate which closes at closes on 23 February 2024.
At present all wills and documents submitted in support of Grant applications are preserved indefinitely in the original paper form. These records date back to 1858.
This consultation paper proposes a reform that will enable older wills and documents to be converted to a digital form and then destroyed, with the wills of famous persons preserved. Views are sought on the proposals from interested parties.
Details of the consultation can be found here:
The board have asked me to draft a response to the consultation and as with other consultations, this should be reflective of the views of our members. So, whilst we encourage you to submit your own responses to the consultation, it would be great to include as many of your views as possible in The Association’s response.
If you could let me have your thoughts direct by email to [email protected] this would be appreciated.
(Author: Kirsty Limacher, Lifetime Lawyers chief legal officer)