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Modernising the law of wills

Professor Nick Hopkins and Spencer Clarke discuss the Law Commission’s proposals to bring the law of wills into the 21st century

25 July 2017

It is estimated that around 40 per cent of adults do not have a will, which means that each year around 200,000 to 250,000 people die intestate. The intestacy rules provide a ‘safety net’ in determining who should receive the deceased’s property. For some, these rules may accord with testamentary wishes. But the rules are a blunt instrument and may not achieve what the deceased would have wanted. This is particularly so for cohabitants, or where the deceased has remarried and has children from a previous relationship. And the intestacy rules do not accommodate gifts to charity. Further, those left behind may never know whether the outcome is what their loved one would have wished.

The law governing wills should be fit for purpose, to encourage more people to make wills and ensure that testamentary wishes are given effect. Our review of the law of wills s...

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