How has Will Writing changed?

Written by WillSuite on 2nd November 2021

Wills date back hundreds if not thousands of years (back to Ancient Greece) but

some of the most significant turning points in the estate planning industry can be identified as the introduction of Inheritance Tax (or death duties) and the Wills Act 1837. These are certainly significant for modern practitioners.

Traditionally, Wills were written on parchment with ink. The introduction of the Wills Act 1837 formalised the processes as we now know them today. Including the correct execution of Wills , with wet ink and in the presence of witnesses who would then sign themselves.

A problem that soon arose was how long it took to amend hand-written Wills. This would typically be a time intensive undertaking, even where only a minor amendment was  needed. This led to the creation of codicils as the preferable solution for minor changes.

The Will writing process evolved after the launch of the typewriter in the later part of the 1800’s where the use of this machine became common practice. The first typewriter was introduced in the 1860’s but wasn’t used in private practice until a few years later.

Years later, typing pools became commonplace and trained typists were very sought after. However, while it did speed up the process of drafting a Will and making changes to them, it was still far from being the perfect solution. Then came the computer in the mid 1900’s.

Indeed, what is largely considered to be the first computer of its generation, the Z1 was thought to have been created between 1936-1938 and paved the way for the technological revolution in which we live today. 

It wasn’t until the 1960’s when computers as we know them started to be mass produced and within the next 30 years, further advancements meant that more and more companies purchased and introduced computers into their businesses.

In the 1990’s the Will Writing profession as we know it evolved further with the introduction of self-regulatory bodies such as the Society of Will Writers and the Institute of Professional Will Writers. They came about to provide consumer safeguards for consumers of non-solicitor drafted Wills. At this point in time many Wills were being produced from templates on software such as Microsoft Word and these files were subsequently saved to floppy Disks. Yet, it wasn’t uncommon for these files to face issues like becoming corrupt leading to prolonged drafting times for practitioners who would typically have to restart the whole process.

Fast forwarding to 2015, the industry sees the launch of the WillSuite platform. The new entry in the market saw us become the first cloud-based solution for estate planning professionals and private client solicitors allowing practitioners to draft Wills on any device with internet access (even a mobile phone). It incorporated solicitor-drafted clauses (written in plain-English - with the Crystal Mark) with modern technology and dramatically decreased drafting time. Revolutionising the process for practitioners which no longer had to download a license and a software onto their computers. Now, cloud-based software is the norm and provides much better data security and access.

In 2021 WillSuite is being used widely by estate planning professionals across throughout the industry and is the software solution of choice of the SWW and the IPW. While sister company Love Legal provides online client-facing solutions as well as a credible back-office solution. The Love Legal group (inclusive of WillSuite, TrustSuite & Love Legal) is responsible for the drafting of well over 100,000 Wills per year and is widely respected by industry practitioners. 

The customisable nature of the software to suit large practices as well as small businesses demonstrates just how far professionals have come when drafting Wills for clients. Of course, WillSuite does more than just draft Wills and in fact is a full Client Relationship Management tool or Case Management Solution.

Modern Wills can be drafted in minutes and changes to these documents (instead of having to create a codicil) can be produced in seconds. 

If you’re ready to implement modern techniques and benefit from software, trial WillSuite for free now.