Write a will for free
When writing a will, it’s always a good idea to seek the help of a solicitor as they will be able to give you legal advice and ensure your will is watertight. But using a solicitor for a single basic will can cost between £150 and £300, and as a result, many people prefer to go down the do-it-yourself route and buy a will kit from a stationer. However, writing your own will can often lead to mistakes being made, and you or your family could end up forking out for a solicitor to set things right again.
During the so-called ‘Make a Will’ month of November, you’ll be able to get the best of both worlds by drawing up (or updating) you will with one of Will Aid’s 1,400 participating solicitors – without the expense.
However, although the service is free, because it’s a charity, Will Aid does ask that you donate a sum of money if you can, which will go towards charities such as ActionAid, AgeUK, British Red Cross, Christian Aid, NSPCC and Save the Children. The suggested donation is £90 for a single basic will or £135 for a pair of basic mirror wills (where you and your partner make almost identical wills).
In November last year, around 24,000 took advantage of the service, raising almost £2.1million in the process.
What do I need to do?
Solicitors are taking appointments now, so you should act quickly if you want to make a booking to ensure you don’t miss out. To get the ball rolling, head to http://www.willaid.org.uk/ to search for a solicitor near you, and then make your appointment. Alternatively, you can call 0300 0300 013. Don’t worry if you think the process of making a will is time-consuming as it can often be done in your lunch hour.
The Will Aid website also has a useful Will Planner form which is worth filling in before your appointment. It asks you to list the value of your major assets, to help you work out the value of your estate, and asks you for the names of your executors – those who are responsible for carrying out your wishes (it’s common to have two, but you can have up to four).
Will Aid also allows you to register your will for free with the national will register, Certainty, so your beneficiaries will be able to locate your will when it’s needed.
Do I really need a will?
Writing a will might seem a bit morbid, but if you die without making one (known as ‘dying intestate’), there’s no guarantee that your wishes will be carried out, and your loved ones could be left with a financial nightmare to deal with.
Writing a will is therefore vital for ensuring your money goes to those you want it to. This is even more important if you have young children or you are not married to your partner. Unmarried partners, and those not in a civil partnership, can’t inherit from each other unless there is a will.
If you are married and die without a will, and your estate is worth more than £250,000, your surviving partner will receive the first £250,000, while your children will inherit the rest when they reach the age of 18. However, if you make a will, you’ll be able to specify who inherits what and when.
Once you’ve written a will, it’s important to keep it up-to-date. According to Will Aid, 40% (8million adults) of those who have written a will have not updated it for more than five years, and a further 4.5million have not updated it for more than 10 years. But if your family circumstances change, perhaps because you have a baby or you get divorced, it’s vital to ensure this is reflected in your will.
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