Do you have an up-to-date will? You probably have lots of reasons as to why not: you don’t have time, or it’s too expensive... Or maybe, like many other people, you simply don’t want to think about death. The thing about death, though, is that it will happen whether you’re ready for it or not: having a valid will in place, though, will make it easier for those left behind. And now, in March 2017, you have at least one less excuse for not getting a will drafted because March is Free Wills Month!
Free Wills Month
Take advantage of a fantastic offer that has been put together by several charities and solicitors in England and Wales. If you or your partner are aged 55 or over, you can contact a participating solicitor in your local area who will prepare your wills for free, during the month of March. Appointments for free wills are limited, so the earlier you enquire the greater the chance you have of securing one.
Even though your wills will be free of charge, your solicitor will draft them just as they would if you were paying for them, and the contents will be completely confidential. You do not have to leave a gift to any charity in your will to qualify for this service, though of course the charities hope that you will do so (it is worth noting that gifts to charities can reduce your inheritance tax liability). If you do leave a gift to any charity in your will, the charity will not see a copy of your will.
Why make a will?
There are so many reasons to make a will. Here are just a few, and there may be others depending on your circumstances:
1.) You can protect your partner.
If you are unmarried but live with your partner, they may be at risk of having to sell your shared home if you do not have a will. Having a will can ensure that they are able to remain living in your home after you have died.
2.) You can protect your children’s inheritance.
If you were to die, your current partner/spouse may remarry. You can ensure that your children will ultimately inherit at least your share of your home by creating a ‘life interest trust’ – ask your solicitor for details.
If any of your children or grandchildren are disabled or otherwise vulnerable, you can ensure that their share of the inheritance is kept safe for them, so that they:
- do not lose access to benefits;
- can continue to pay for their care needs and
- are not taken advantage of by unscrupulous people.
3.) You can ensure that your grandchildren inherit.
Many people have complex family arrangements, though: you may have step-grandchildren and half-grandchildren as well as natural grandchildren. Normally, only biological and adopted children and grandchildren will inherit if not identified by name in a will. Save any confusion and upset by being clear in your will.
4.) Reduce inheritance tax liability
Your solicitor will be able to give you advice on how to arrange your estate so that when you do pass away, as much of it will pass to your loved ones as possible.
5.) Provide certainty
In your will, you can specify who will deal with your estate (closing bank accounts, paying bills etc.) and also give instructions on things like how you want your body to be disposed of (cremation or burial, for example), and who will be given special items such as jewellery.
Getting a free will
You can search online for solicitors
in your local area who are offering free wills, and you can also find full details of the charities that are supporting this initiative. A typical appointment takes between thirty minutes and an hour, and you will need to go back after a few days to have your will signed and properly witnessed. Wills do not need to be reviewed after any set length of time, though you should always be mindful of any changes in your financial or personal circumstances that would stop your will from reflecting your wishes.
Getting your affairs in order will ensure that if the worst happens then your loved ones will not have to suffer financially or practically at a time when they will be suffering emotionally. If you also choose to leave a charitable gift in your will, then you will also be making a difference to the lives of countless others.