What is a Modern Will?

The mention of a Will conjures up visions of dusty documents written in language that is impenetrable.
Although Wills may now be produced using a modern PC and printer, the approach and terminology has remained much the same. However, life has changed and accordingly the approach to Wills needs to change.
This manifests itself in a number of different facets.

Your Electronic Life

Even 10 years ago our lives were generally constructed in paper. However, with the advent of ubiquitous email and social media our lives are now constructed in binary code held in servers that may be halfway round the world. What would happen if we were to die?

To answer that one needs to understand that a person invariably does not own their "digital assets" such as their online pictures, social media accounts and email. Rather, the ownership is determined by those pesky "Terms and Conditions" which none of us read before before checking a box when applying for a new service.

It is the norm that those terms and conditions will state that we only have a use of these assets and that their ownership lies with the service owner or provider. Accordingly, we have entered into a contract that, on death, will not give the executors of your Will a right in the same way that they could deal with monies which you hold in a bank or your house or whatever other assets you have.

Some of the more advanced services contain provisions as to how matters can be dealt with on the death of the user but most services online do not contain adequate provisions. This is recognised as a major problem and at the moment it is "cowboy" territory. Within the conditions in the yourwill.scot modern will there are directives which your executors can utilise to deal with your digital and social media accounts. These directives are powerful instruments to deal with the organisations holding your digital assets and experiences. Why should these directives make a difference? Organisations such as Google or Facebook do not want to find that they have agreed to something in respect of a deceased person's account and then find that other beneficiaries or interested parties later challenge them. If there is a directive given within the terms of the Will then people such as Facebook and Google can rely upon that in safety.

One Page Will

Solicitors tend to measure their effectiveness by how lengthy they can make their documents. In the age of the word processor producing multipage documents is in fact the lazy approach.

There are two measures to advanced modern drafting of documents. The first is endeavouring to reduce the length of the document and the second is that the user can access plain English so that they can understand the document. With yourwill.Scot our aim was to create a will that is generally on one page and to provide users with a plain English understanding of their Will.

On the face of it these two aims are contradictory because one of the downsides of plain English is that it generally means a lengthy document. So we adopted the following strategy:

  • to create a one-page will we accepted that the terminology would be necessarily turgid and technical. However, we have separated the Will into a section with the main details and a technical section in small print.
  • To ensure that our users can clearly understand the terms of the Will we have created a plain English explanation of all the terms allowing a full appreciation of the meaning of the technical elements within the Will

Online Service

While the current law does not allow for digital Wills we do our best to provide a digital environment which we know suits most people. Accordingly, when the Will is completed you will be able to access a copy of the Will digitally and we will advise you periodically of changes in the legal environment or other factors which may prompt you to change your Will, or at least ensure that you are aware of the circumstances.

The net result is that we change the creation of a Will from an exercise in "dusty documents" to a straightforward and easy creation process relying upon digital means as much as possible followed up by interactivity depending upon changes in the law, the general environment and your own personal circumstances.