Law Society warns of potential fraud with introduction of electronic wills

The Law Society has cautioned that the adoption of electronic wills may heighten the risk of fraud. In response to the Law Commission's consultation on wills reform, the Society emphasises the need for thorough research before implementation. While 50% of surveyed solicitors support technology in will writing, concerns persist about fraud and undue influence. The Law Society calls for careful crafting of electronic will requirements, alongside the retention of a paper process to prevent disadvantages.

The Law Society has cautioned that the adoption of electronic wills might pose an increased risk of fraud. The society emphasises the need for further research before introducing electronic wills, as highlighted in its response to the Law Commission's consultation on wills reform. The commission is exploring electronic wills due to the growing acceptance of digital documents and signatures in various contexts and technological advancements.

While acknowledging the likely inevitability of electronic wills, the Law Society, in its response, conducted a survey involving 895 solicitors specialising in wills and probate. Half of the respondents (50%) indicated a potential support for incorporating technology into the will-writing process. However, concerns were raised among solicitors regarding the heightened risks of fraud and undue influence associated with electronic wills.

A Law Society spokesperson said: “We support provisions to enable electronic wills to be made valid under the law. While we are not opposed to the use of technology to facilitate will-making, we recognise concerns around the risk of fraud and undue influence. It is important that the requirements for an electronic will provide the right level of protection. It is also essential to maintain a paper process for will-making. This will ensure that anyone who struggles to make a will electronically is not disadvantaged. We hope that if electronic wills are introduced, more people will be encouraged to write wills. However, it is vital that there is an opportunity for detailed examination of what is being proposed.”

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