No Printer, No Problem: wills and old law in a modern era

Photo: Dustin Lee

The problem

We studied tech trends and access to legal services in the UK.  This article examines a task every adult should undertake: making a will.  The rise of the internet and legal tech has made it easier than ever to access legal services.  However, changing tech trends have it harder to get a “hard copy” of legal documents. 

This article sets out a key problem that consumers are likely to face when making a will, and describes the actions that makeawillonline has taken to remedy this.

Old Law

Despite the change in technology a lot of laws still require a document to be printed and signed such as sale of property, wills, and powers of attorney.  The Wills Act 1837 requires wills to be in hard copy, signed, and witnessed.  Back in 1837 there was no accounting for digital verification, blockchain, virtual copies or any of the other tech that law and commerce are increasingly relying on.  A will therefore has to be on paper and signed.  Whilst there are consultations around updating these ancient laws, nothing has yet been done by parliament. 

Old Tech

Remember the ‘90s: breezeblock-sized monitors and serpentine knot of cables exiting the back of your PC?  One of those invariably led to a printer.  Since then, tech changed: monitors are wafer-thin, tablets have taken the place of desktops, and printer costs and environmental awareness has reduced the popularity of print. 

The growth in the use of mobile devices has made it easier than ever to access to the internet.  Printers are becoming a thing of the past.  HP: the world’s biggest printer manufacturer is having a wholesale change of strategy.  The presence of a printer in a home is no longer a given. 

This means that despite an unparalleled access to legal advice and legal services, consumers can be left with a will but no way to make the will legal.  This issue is especially acute for people without access to work printers, libraries or internet cafes.  These include those living rurally, people with mobility impairments, or just people who don’t have the time to fit a trip to the library or interne cafe into their schedule.

No printer, no problem:

Continuing in our quest to make sure that the peace of mind of having a will is available to all, we have launched out our “Print & Send” service.  For just £9.50 you can have a professionally bound fully legal will printed on high grade paper and securely sent to your door. 

We have also paired up with the National Will Safe and the National Will Register so that if you get your will printed, you can have it stored professionally and noted on the national register.  You can rest easy in the knowledge that your will is safe, secure and discoverable.