The Government has launched several consultations/inquiries regarding Wills and Probate over the last few months.

Making a will: a supplementary consultation paper

The Law Commission first consulted on reforming the law of wills in 2017, pausing the project between 2019 and 2022.

The Law Society published their Supplementary Consultation Paper on 5 October 2023 on two topics: possible reforms to enable electronic wills and to the rule that a marriage or civil partnership revokes a will.  The supplementary consultation period closed on 8 December 2023, and I submitted Lifetime Lawyers’ formal response to the consultation in December.

The Law Commission is now analysing responses to the supplementary consultation and developing their final recommendations for reform on all the topics within their review. They aim to publish the final Report and a draft Bill enacting their recommendations in early 2025.


Probate Inquiry

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. 

As reported in last month’s newsletter, a number of you responded to share your experiences which formed the basis of the response I submitted on 22 January following our rebrand.

I have been contacted by the clerk at the House of Commons managing the inquiry for the Justice Select Committee, and they have advised that they have received “considerably more evidence than usual for this inquiry, both in terms of complexity and volume.”

They are putting together a long list of potential witnesses for a panel session on the 12 March and another panel a few weeks later and I’ve been invited to participate in one of these sessions.

What are the key issues that you wish me to raise that you think the Committee needs to hear? Please let me have your thoughts by email: [email protected]


Storage and retention of original will documents

The Ministry of Justice launched a further consultation on the storage and retention of wills and other documents submitted in applications for probate which closed 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 were sought on the proposals from interested parties.

I have submitted our response to this consultation and will let you know when I receive any updates.

(Author: Kirsty Limacher, Lifetime Lawyers chief legal officer)