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If you want to be sure that what happens to your assets and your loved ones when you die is in line with your wishes, you need a will. If you don’t leave a valid will, where your money goes and who looks after your dependent children is determined by law and may be completely contrary to your wishes.
Here’s my guide to getting a FREE will written, whether you are nearing retirement or still in the prime of youth!
Free Wills Month
Free Wills Month – for the month of March – is a campaign which offers people aged 55 and over the opportunity to have a simple will written or updated free of charge by one of the participating solicitors.
If you aren’t in this demographic but your parents are, ask them – do they have a valid will?
- If they aren’t married or in a civil partnership, they don’t have the same automatic rights as those who are married.
- If they have re-married, do they know that marriage automatically revokes a will made previously and unless they re-write their will, they will be deemed to have died ‘intestate’ – meaning without a will.
- If you have a parent who is re-married, if they were to die without a will, their personal possessions and first £250k would pass to their new spouse. As a surviving child, you may inherit nothing. It’s worth having this conversation!
A ‘free’ will
Free Wills Month is a fantastic campaign, and enables many to initiate the process of writing a will who would otherwise have not bothered.
It is a charity-backed scheme, and the charities pay for the solicitors’ time (though at a reduced price).
The charities involved hope that in return for using the scheme, you will consider making a bequest to the charity in your will (i.e., leaving the charity a monetary gift when you die). The solicitor will likely ask you this at your appointment but you are under no obligation. However, if you were already thinking of leaving some money to charity anyway, this is a great way of doing it.
Most UK charities depend on legacies for up to half their income – so by having your will written as part of the Free Wills Month campaign, and leaving a bequest, you could help one or more of the worthy causes involved.
The finer details
- Straightforward, simple Wills and mirror Wills (wills containing nearly identical instructions) are provided for free as part of Free Wills Month. If your will may be more complicated, please check with your solicitor before booking as there may be a charge to cover the extra work.
- If you are making your will as a couple, only one of you needs to be over 55.
- There are a limited number of appointments with the participating solicitors. Book an appointment with your chosen solicitor as soon as you can here. Once all available appointments are booked the campaign will close.
- Once on the website, you’ll be able to search for a local solicitor using your postcode. Just call them directly to book your Free Wills appointment.
- You must make your appointment by Saturday 31 March, although the actual meeting can take place after this time.
Whilst Free Wills Month is open to over 55s, if you are under 55, some charities run their own similar campaigns under which they pay your solicitor fees for a will to be written in the anticipation of a bequest. Below are a sample but if you already donate to a charity that is close to your heart, check to see whether they offer a similar scheme.
- Alzheimers Research
- Amnesty International
- British Heart Foundation
- CATS Protection
- Great Ormond Street Hospital
- Guide Dogs
- Macmillan (discounted)
- National Trust
- People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals
- Red Cross
These charities mainly offer wills written either through:
- The Goodwill Partnership which offers a will writing service for £125+VAT and includes a home visit. This price is fixed, no matter how detailed your Will is.
- The National Free Wills Network. The National Free Wills Network offers free will-writing services to supporters of charities that subscribe to the Network.
Going through a charity to have your will written by a professional is a great way to avoid solicitor fees yourself, and make a meaningful donation to a charity. However, there are alternatives to getting a valid will drawn up; you can pay to use a solicitor, use a will writing service, or do it yourself. I’ve got a post on the pros and cons of each of these here.