The body which advises the government on legal reform has suggested that the current law on when a person can make a Will is outdated. Under Section 7 of Wills Act 1837, a person must be aged 18 or over to make a Will (but there is an exception for a soldier in military service).
A report by the Law Commission argues that the case of Re JS last year supports the argument for the age to be lowered to 16. Many people will remember that the case of JS related to the 14 year old girl suffering from terminal cancer who sought permission from the Court for her body to be cryogenically preserved. Although she succeeded, the Law Commission argue that if she had been allowed to make a valid Will, such a dispute would not have arisen. Instead, her mother could have been appointed as her sole executor and her wishes would have been carried out.
The Law Commission argue that, as 16 year olds are able to leave school, join the army, get married (with parental consent), live alone, consent to sexual activity and make their own medical decisions, they should be allowed to make a Will. They go onto say that the current age of 18 is no longer appropriate given the increasing recognition being provided to 16 and 17 year olds in the context of medical and social welfare.
Children aged 16 and 17 can have significant assets. Is it therefore fair that they cannot choose how to dispose of them?
Some people will of course consider that the law should remain the same.
Who knows what the final outcome will be. Whatever it is, it raises the importance of making a Will whatever age you are
Please contact our specialist Solicitor, Andrew Gullett on 01924 332395 for further information about making a Will.
You can also take advantage of our Summer 2017 25% discount off our Wills (expires end Sep 2017)