Have you been putting off sorting out your will? Don’t worry, you’re definitely not the only one. In fact, in 2017 it was estimated that around 31 million people in the UK were risking dying intestate by not having a will drawn up. That’s a lot of headaches for family members further down the line. There is an answer though: Free Wills Month, which is taking place right now.
Free Wills Month, which takes place in October and March, can be the ideal opportunity to get your will written up with a minimal amount of cost. So, do yourself and your loved ones a favour, and use this month to get your will in order once and for all. Here’s how…
- What is Free Wills Month?
- Is Free Wills Month Only for Over-55s?
- Why is It Important to Have a Will?
- Does My Will Need Updating?
- Anything Else I Should Know?
- More Inheritance Planning Tips
October (and March) every year is Free Wills Month for the over-55s. It gives you a great chance to get this essential bit of your estate sorted out without spending exorbitant amounts of money on lawyers and legal fees.
But what is Free Wills Month?
The month sees a number of well-respected charities get together to offer those over the age of 55 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland the chance to get their wills either created or updated for free. Participating solicitors take part, offering their services in return for a donation to these charities (and yes, it can be a small one).
Charities taking part in Free Wills Month 2020 include:
- Mind, the mental health charity
- The Salvation Army
- The National Trust
- Alzheimer’s Research UK
So, why do charities take part in Free Wills Month? What’s in it for them? The answer to that is simple. As a huge amount of the income that charities receive comes from donations, by signing up to be part of the scheme they can reap the rewards from those using the service. Clever, right? You can get your will updated or created from scratch, and you can support charity at the same time – even if you’re only able to donate a few pounds.
The Free Wills Month website includes a search function where you can see which solicitors in your local area are taking part.
Although Free Wills Month is aimed at over 55s, if you’re part of a couple and you both want to take part only one of you needs to be over 55 for you both to get your wills written up or updated.
Additionally, some solicitors may offer the service to those under the age of 55. This will be on a discretionary basis, though.
Under-55s could also take advantage of Will Aid month, which happens every November. The donation requested is higher – usually around £100 – but this is still much cheaper than it usually would be to get your will written.
Yes, we all know that a will is important… in later life, though. Do you really need to go through the hassle of sorting it out right now?
The short answer is yes – yes, you do. Anyone who has any form of asset or any savings should have a will in place in the event of anything happening to them. So if you’re a homeowner or have any stocks, shares, investments or items of value (or even any money in the bank at all) you need to make sure you’ve got this in order.
Here are just a couple of reasons why having a will is essential:
- It will ensure that your wishes are respected in the event of your death
- It will help to avoid awkward conversations between family members, for example over inheritance
If you don’t create a will, in the event of your death you will be classed as dying “intestate”. This means that your loved ones might not benefit as much as you’d like them to (if at all).
Clearly, that’s not something that you want. And as it’s Free Wills Month this October, there really is no better time to get this bit of essential life admin sorted out.
If you already have a will, there’s a good chance that it might need updating. If you’ve had any change in circumstances at all, you might want to consider getting an updated version created. Here are just a few of the reasons why that might be the case…
- Your circumstances changed due to COVID, for example you might now be in a different financial position that needs to be accurately reflected
- You own property that you might not have owned when you first took out your will
- You’ve taken out an equity release lifetime mortgage
- Your children have got married, making an update to their names or addresses likely
- You now have grandchildren, whom you are likely to want to reflect within your will
- You’ve been divorced since your last will was made.
Of course, these are only a few examples of why your will might be due an update this Free Wills Month. If any of them are the case, we recommend that you get a solicitor to look over your will and help you with any changes that are needed sooner rather than later. Just go to the Free Wills Month website to do that: https://freewillsmonth.org.uk/
- COVID-19 precautions: As COVID-19 still presents a large risk across the whole of the UK, the law firms operating as part of Free Wills Month have all put measures in place to protect their clients during appointments.
- If your will gets complicated: Free Wills Month works under the assumption that the wills taken on will be relatively simple to create or update. This won’t be an issue for most people, but if the creation or updating of a will takes an extraordinary amount of time the solicitor reserves the right to eventually ask you to start paying for their time.
- Is there anything I should do to prepare? Free Wills Month has created a wills planner, which you might want to look at ahead of your appointment so you’re prepared for the questions that the solicitor might ask.
Have you had recent experience altering your will, or creating one? If so, we’d love to hear your story. Let us know over on the forums.
More INheritance Planning Tips
Making a will is just one part of inheritance planning you’ll need to take care of as you get older. Thinking about gifting money to loved ones now? Perhaps you want to know what the inheritance tax limit is. Check out these articles for more details!