Changes Afoot in Relation to the Preparation and Contesting of Wills
Will claim Solicitors, specialist no win no fee will dispute and will contest Solicitors, discuss some recent changes in relation to the preparation and contesting of Wills
A permanent change to section 9 of the Wills Act 1837?
What is the change?
Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 governs the formation of Wills. All Wills must comply with its requirements otherwise they will not be valid in law and a Will dispute or Will contest claim is likely to follow. We previously discussed the significance of this in a blog prepared in 2017 (see https://www.willclaim.com/how-to-contest-a-will-the-importance-of-the-wills-act1837-2/)
What does section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 say?
Here is the section for your information:
Signing and attestation of wills
No will shall be valid unless—
(a)it is in writing, and signed by the testator, or by some other person in his presence and by his direction; and
(b)it appears that the testator intended by his signature to give effect to the will; and
(c)the signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time; and
(d)each witness either—
(i)attests and signs the will; or
(ii)acknowledges his signature, in the presence of the testator (but not necessarily in the presence of any
but no form of attestation shall be necessary.]
You can also go directly to the relevant section by following the link below:
In summary, no Will is valid unless it is signed (or his/her signature acknowledged) by the testator (the person making the Will) in front of two witnesses, who also sign it in front of the testator (but not necessarily in front of each other).
What is the change to this?
The change allows the Will to be witnessed and signed remotely (see https://www.gov.uk/make-will/make-sure-your-will-is-legal). However, what is happening must be clear to all parties at the time to avoid Will disputes and Will contest claims. The government website in fact puts it like this:
• you must have a clear view of the person and the act of signing
• the will maker (or person authorised to sign on their behalf) and witnesses must sign the same document
You can only sign remotely in England or Wales.
If you make any changes to your will you must follow the same signing and witnessing process.
This apparently is a temporary change with a built-in “sunset clause” by virtue of which it automatically expires on 31 January 2022. Plainly it might lead to a permanent change as the country begins to adapt and adopt new ways of working; we will wait and see.
What change to the contesting of Wills?
We have discussed stopping the Grant of Probate in Will dispute and Will contest cases in a previous blog – by entering a Caveat (see for example – https://www.willclaim.com/contestinga-will-removing-a-caveat-without-issuing-court-proceedings/). It is useful device in Will contest and Will dispute claims as it allows one time to obtain evidence and papers because the entry of a Caveat stops the Grant of Probate and the without the Grant, the Will Executor is unable to administer the deceased’s estate.
It used to be the case that a new Caveat fee (and a renewal fee) cost £20. The government have unilaterally reduced it to £3. It is also now only £3 to apply for a Standing Search (a device to ensure that one is told when a Grant is made). Here is the link to the government website for your information:
If you consider any of these facts and matters are likely to apply to you, or you would like to ask us for more information about our no win no fee arrangement, or you simply want us to assess your claim, then please do not hesitate to contact us for a confidential no strings chat.