Having a will is essential if you want to make sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you die. Once you’ve made a will, it is important to keep it up to date; it is estimated that a third of over 50s have out of date wills, meaning that their families wouldn’t be adequately protected if the worst should happen. George Critchley, Managing Director of Bread and Butter Advice Ltd, said:
"We advise all of our clients to have an up to date will in place. We all think that we will live to a ripe old age. The last two deaths in my family were at ages 58 and 39. The former died with a will in place. Although only several weeks ago the majority of the estate has now passed to his widow.
"The latter died at age 39 without a will (intestate) and therefore the rules of intestacy apply. The process will be long and drawn out. Worst of all, many distant family members will receive a share of the monies even though this is the last thing the deceased might have wanted."
Updating your will needn’t be costly; this March is Free Wills Month, when solicitors around the country team up with leading charities to offer will services to over 55s for free.
How does it work?
Participating solicitors are offering a number of free appointments throughout March - there are a limited number of appointments and when they run out the offer will end - for over 55s to get a simple will written or updated. You can find participating solicitors in your area by visiting FreeWillsMonth.org.uk and entering your postcode. You can also download a free will guide from the website which will help you to prepare for your appointment. All you have to do is turn up and get your will made for free!
Why is it free?
As well as raising awareness of the importance of making a will, the campaign aims to encourage people to support charities by leaving them a bequest in their will. Many charities depend on bequests for the majority of their income, and the hope is that this campaign will help boost donations. However, although your solicitor will be working in partnership with a charity, there is no obligation for you to leave them a bequest under the terms of the campaign.
What if I can’t get an appointment?
There are a limited number of appointments, so act quickly if you want one! If you miss out, you could consider waiting until Will Aid Month in November, when participating solicitors will offer their services in exchange for a donation to charity. Alternatively, you could consider paying for a will to be an investment in your family’s future and well worth the money! It is important to get your will written correctly, so when choosing a solicitor, make sure they’re regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA).
Whether you take advantage of Free Wills Month or not, don’t put off getting your will up to date - a little time and effort now can help to protect your family when you’re gone.