The Absurd Reason Why UK’s Ministry of Justice Wants to Destroy 100 Million Wills

last will stock photo

Since COVID, the movement to digitize archives has accelerated across the world but in the UK the speed might kill some incredible historical artifacts.

The UK’s Ministry of Justice came up with what for many sounds like a harebrained scheme designed to pinch pennies: digitize, then destroy, a hundred million paper wills.

According to this report, the Ministers say they’re spending 4.5 million pounds a year taking care of the archives of last wills of UK citizens, which number about 100 million. Their solution would be to digitize those documents, then destroy the physical copies to save up time and resources.

The problem? Their scheme wouldn’t just wipe out an anonymous nana’s last wishes, it would destroy significant documents from some of the most famous people ever.

From The Guardian’s report:

“Ministers believe digitisation will speed up access to the papers, but the proposal has provoked a backlash among historians and archivists who took to X to decry it as “bananas” and “a seriously bad idea.” The government is proposing to keep the originals of some wills of “famous people” — likely including those of Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and Diana, Princess of Wales — but others would be destroyed after 25 years and only a digital copy would be kept. It is feared that wills of ordinary people, some of whom may become historically significant in the future, risk being lost.

Wills are considered essential documents, particularly for social historians and genealogists, as they capture what people considered important at the time and reveal unknown family links. The proposal comes amid growing concern at the fragility of digital archives, after a cyber-attack on the British Library left the online catalogue and digitized documents unavailable to users since late October.”

What do you think, are the savings enough to justify the risks?

Also read: When did TVs come out? A Quick History of This World Changing Invention

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