October is free wills month. A number of charities offer members of the public who are aged 55 and over the opportunity to have a simple Will written or updated free of charge by using solicitors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who participate in the scheme.
The majority of people do not make a Will. It is a cliché but often, it is more expensive to deal with the assets and estate of someone who has not left a Will. There are a significant number of benefits to making a Will, including:
- choosing who deals with your affairs after you have died (known as the Executors)
- making sure that your assets go to the people whom you want to inherit
- making any charitable gifts.
If someone does not make a Will, on their death, their assets will be divided in accordance with the intestacy rules. This is a strict list of who is entitled to take the assets of the deceased and after spouse or civil partner and children, it follows the deceased's bloodline so their parents, brothers and sisters etc., inherit. Crucially, only spouses and civil partners are permitted to inherit under the intestacy rules. This means that if a surviving cohabitee has no automatic entitlement to the assets of their deceased partner. This can cause great anguish and hardship and could easily be remedied by making a Will.
Even if a law firm is not participating in the free will initiative, all firms must give details of the costs of their services at the outset and many people would be surprised at the relatively cheap cost of making a Will. It is also important to consider whether the firm is a regulated law firm, which offers proper protection to consumers, rather than an unregulated Will writer. This is information which anyone seeking to instruct someone to prepare their Will should ask at the outset.
Making a Will does not need to be daunting. To save time (and, possibly, money) before going to see a law firm about making a Will, prepare a list that includes the following:
- your full name and address
- the full names and addresses of anybody want to mention in your Will
- the full names and addresses of your children
- details of any child/ren who you do not wish to mention in your Will
- a list of your assets, such as house, bank accounts etc.
All of this information will be very helpful for the lawyer preparing your Will. If you have an existing Will you should take it with you to your appointment (or, at least, a photocopy of it if you have one).
The above straightforward steps should make the process of having a Will prepared easier. Taking specialist advice will hopefully mean that dealing with your affairs will be much easier for those you leave behind.
To discuss this or any other private client matter, contact us.