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Comparative Succession LawVolume I: Testamentary Formalities$
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Kenneth G C Reid, Marius J. de Waal, and Reinhard Zimmermann

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199696802

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199696802.001.0001

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Testamentary Formalities in England and Wales

Testamentary Formalities in England and Wales

(p.305) 13 Testamentary Formalities in England and Wales
Comparative Succession Law

Roger Kerridge

Oxford University Press

Most of those who die in England and Wales, owning property of value, die testate. Wills of movables were permitted in England in the Middle Ages, and wills of freehold land have been permitted since 1540. The pre-1677 formality rules were undemanding, but from 1677 until 1837 they were excessively complicated. Since 1838 there has been one set of formality rules for all English wills, but it provides poor protection against beneficiary involvement in the will-making process, against forgery, and it also leads to the failure of some wills, on technical grounds, where there is nothing of substance wrong. Revision of the rules relating to the preparation and registration of wills is under consideration at the present time. The Law Reform Committee looked at ‘The Making and Revocation of Wills’ in 1980, but its report was disappointing. What is now needed is a thoroughgoing reinvestigation of the whole topic.

Keywords:   property, wills, preparation, formalities, protection, registration, beneficiaries, forgery, reform

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