Change to law on the signing of wills

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Chief Minster Ian Gorst has lodged a proposition, which if approved, would allow an incapacitated person to nominate someone else to sign their will, and other legal documents, on their behalf.

Under the proposals, two witnesses would need to be present at the signing, one of whom would need to be a ‘qualified’ witness, which could be a Jurat, States Member, advocate, solicitor or notary public.

The will would need to be read aloud in the presence of the two witnesses, who would also need to co-sign the will.

The proposals were prompted by a Royal Court case in which it was found that a person had died intestate, or without a will, after he was unable to sign his will as a result of paralysis of the hands.

If the new laws are approved, a physically incapable person would also be able to authorise another person to sign a power of attorney [a written authorisation for someone else to act on their behalf] or an affidavit [a verification statement which can be used as evidence].

Senator Gorst said that he was ‘grateful’ for the work of the Legislation Advisory Panel, which had recommended the law changes.

Panel chairman Senator Sir Philip Bailhache, said that it is ‘highly important’ that no one in Jersey is prevented from executing the documents in question due to physical incapacity.

‘I am pleased, therefore, that the Legislation Advisory Panel have been able to respond to the issue highlighted by both the Royal Court judgment and the independent report commissioned by Collas Crill,’ he said.

‘This is a positive development for our community and I hope States Members will support the draft law when it comes before the Assembly.’

The proposals are due to be debated by the States Assembly on 6 March.

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