We all know we need one, but how many of us have actually written a will? Would you be more inclined if a solicitor would do so for free?
One depressing fact of life I've observed: the older you get, the more likely you are to have heard of the latest famous person to have died.
Of course, you may think you're too young to pop your clogs just yet, and hopefully you are.
But what if you should shuffle off this mortal coil a bit earlier than expected? Are you confident your loved ones would be provided for? And with the sobering statistic that nearly one in twenty children loses a parent before finishing full-time education, have you planned who would raise your kids, should the worst happen?
4 top reasons why you should make a Will:
1. You decide what happens to your estate
First and foremost: If you die without making a will (which is termed dying "intestate") the law will decide what happens to your estate. Unless your circumstances are very straightforward, this could leave your loved ones with a financial nightmare.
2. You can choose who raises your children
If you have children under 18 it's vital to plan what would happen to them, should you die - and the best way to guarantee this is to specify guardians in your will.
3. To provide for your partner
To be blunt, unlike married couples, your partner could be legally entitled to the grand total of nothing in the event of your death.
4. You can minimise the amount of Inheritance Tax (IHT) payable
What's more, if you haven't made a will stating what should happen to your estate upon your death, it could be subject to Inheritance Tax. IHT is currently payable at a whopping 40%.
Hopefully I've convinced you and you're all geared up to write a will, but you're probably thinking it'll be really expensive. A straightforward will costs in the region of £150 - £200 to get drawn up by a solicitor; husband and wife "mirror" wills cost around £250.
You could write your will own for free, of course. But I really wouldn't advise it - just one mistake could leave it completely invalid. Plus a good solicitor can help you to minimise your IHT liability.
But I have got some tips to cut the cost - and I can even show you how to get one written for free.
4 ways to get your will written, for free
- For a start, we are currently in Free Wills Month when a number of solicitors offer their services for charitable donations. Anyone aged 55 or over can have a basic will drawn up by a participating solicitor for free. But be quick - this offer is only available until 31 May.
- Similarly, depending on your age the Stroke Association (over 60s), Cancer Research (over 55s), and the Insulin Diabetes Trust (IDDT) (over 50s) have teamed up with solicitors all over the country to help you write or update your will for absolutely nothing (IDDT members of any age are also eligible). Of course, although the organisations mentioned above would never ask, you should either give a donation at the time, or ensure you name the charity as a beneficiary in your will.
- Alternatively, Totallyfreewills does exactly what it says on the tin - it offers you the chance to write your own will, which it will have confirmed as legal by one of its participating solicitors. You sign and witness it, then keep a copy (and the solicitor involved does the same). This is totally free for basic wills - but if your estate is more complicated you'll have to pay the solicitor involved for any extra work.
- Finally we have Will Aid. Every November this scheme persuades a vast number of solicitors all over the country to give up their services for charity - which means you'll pay absolutely nothing to have a basic will drawn up. Now of course, this, again, is for charity. It is therefore recommended that you donate £75 for a single will, £110 for a pair of matching or "mirror" wills, and £40 for a codicil if you need to amend or add anything to your will. Your donation can be dealt with by naming the charity as a beneficiary in your will. Will Aid charities that benefit include British Red Cross, Save the Children UK and Help the Aged.
So there you have it - it is possible to get a will written by a solicitor, for free. Get organised, write or update your will and you'll know your loved ones are protected, should the worst happen.
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