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STEP’s response to the Law Commission’s Supplementary Consultation Paper: Making a will

STEP’s response to the Law Commission’s Supplementary Consultation Paper: Making a will


STEP, the global professional body for inheritance advisors, has responded to the Law Commission of England and Wales’ (the Law Commission’s) supplementary consultation that seeks to reform the Wills Act 1837 (the Wills Act).

With over 22,000 members in over 100 countries and over 8,000 members in the UK, STEP members include lawyers, accountants and other specialists that help families plan for their futures: from drafting a will or advising family businesses, to helping international families and protecting vulnerable family members.

In responding to the Wills Act consultation, STEP, surveyed its UK members. Our position is as follows – focusing in on three main topics: electronic wills, predatory marriage and marriage revoking a will.

Electronic wills

As use of technology in all aspects of life increases, so will demand for electronic wills. New legal provisions will be needed to accommodate this.

If electronic wills are introduced, safeguards against fraud and the abuse of vulnerable people must be prioritised.

We believe that provisions for electronic wills should be clearly set out in separate legislation, rather than incorporated into the existing Wills Act. This will avoid confusion and make it clear that the process for making a paper will is not affected.

To protect against fraud and the loss of will copies, we believe that electronic wills should only be valid if they are registered and stored on a government-authorised central storage system. 

Predatory marriage

It is not clear how common predatory marriage is. A recent poll of a small number of STEP members found that 18% of respondents had noticed an increase.

We support strengthening the measures for testing the capacity of people getting married or entering into a civil partnership. However, it also important not to assume that there is a predatory, or other ulterior motive, if someone who has reduced capacity gets married.

Marriage revoking a will

STEP believes the current rule that marriage automatically revokes a will should be retained, but that there is a need to raise public awareness of this rule. Greater awareness could prevent potential inheritance disputes, which cause distress for grieving families. We would like to work with government and other stakeholders to achieve this.