On 15 December the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Justice issued a consultation document on the storage and retention of original will documents, proposing to digitize and then destroy original wills after 25 years (https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/storage-and-retention-of-original-will-documents).
On 21 February 2024, the APG Board of Directors submitted a response to the Ministry of Justice, expressing concern for the recent proposal:
While APG applauds the initiative to digitize and make accessible the wills held by the Ministry of Justice, APG does not support the destruction of these valuable documents, as there are real risks in digitization. Wills provide a valuable glimpse into the networks, lives, and families of citizens and residents of the UK and the former Empire. They are of immense genealogical value and oftentimes paint a picture of the people being researched. Not only that, wills provide valuable data for social and economic history, telling the stories of the commonfolk and luminaries alike. The destruction of the original wills will effectively put three centuries of history at risk; in particular, the history of those often forgotten.
APG’s comment also urges the Ministry of Justice and Parliament to reconsider this proposal and find a solution that will preserve and make accessible these valuable pieces of British and global history.