October is Free Wills Month. Free Wills Month brings together a group of well-respected charities to offer members of the public aged 55 and over the opportunity to have their simple Wills written or updated free of charge by using participating solicitors in locations across England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
See the FULL LIST of participating areas.
Appointments opened for booking on 1st October. If you want to take part, don’t delay, as slots go fast.
Jump to Section:
- How to book a Free Wills Month appointment
- Do I need a will?
- What exactly is a will?
- The steps to creating a will
- What areas are participating in Free Wills Month?
How to book a Free Wills Month appointment:
- Enter your postcode on the Free Wills Month website to find your nearest participating solicitor who has availability.
- Contact the solicitor to arrange an appointment, and mention the Free Wills Month scheme. Due to the pandemic, most solicitors are offering video and phone call appointments, as well as face to face.
Do I Need A Will?
It always interests me how we don’t like to talk about taboo subjects, and death is one of those taboo subjects, right? People don’t like talking about the what if scenarios; creating a will is one of those things. So I want to talk you through the basic principles of will writing and power of attorney.
A lot of people think “I’m young and fit and healthy, I don’t need to make a will.” Creating a will is relevant whether you’re single, whether you’re married, whether you’re not married and in a relationship, whether you’re in a civil partner relationship. There are two certainties in life, death and taxes, and we should be talking about this more openly.
If you are under 55 and don’t qualify for Free Wills Month, I encourage you to check out my guide on creating a will to protect your family, or listen to the full guide below.
What Exactly is A Will?
A will is a written legal document, and it sets out your wishes as to what you would like to happen in the event that something happens to you. In order for a will to be legally valid, it needs to be in writing. It needs to be signed, and it needs to be witnessed by two independent witnesses who aren’t beneficiaries within the will. So, for example, let’s say you’ve left some money to your best friend – you can’t have your best friend witness that will because it’s a conflict of interest.
Then you then need to choose executors. An executor is who is responsible for gathering together all of the information about your estate in the event that something happens to you. So it’s important to think carefully about who are going to be the executors on your estate, and if you find you’re procrastinating, I would think about who you implicitly trust? They’re really just administering your wishes so they don’t necessarily have to make decisions, but they have to just be capable and responsible people. If you really can’t think of anybody, then sometimes people may choose a solicitor to be one of those executors, but be mindful that solicitors obviously will charge for that service.
For most people, they would like their partner or their spouse to inherit their estates, and then, if anything happens to both of them together or all the second death would then go to perhaps the children. If there are no children, then it may go to family members, friends, or maybe some charities.
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The steps to creating a will
There are really six ways that you can get started creating a will.
- Make one yourself – You can literally go into WH Smiths and buy a will writing pack! This is the cheapest way to create a will, and actually if your situation is very straightforward and you’re procrastinating about this right now, that is an option. It isn’t something that I personally would recommend because it’s probably a little bit risky. And the reason it’s risky is because if you haven’t done it correctly, had it witnessed correctly, or you’ve missed something out, then it could be a costly mistake. But what I would say is if you’re really avoiding doing it because you can’t afford to use a solicitor right now, that would be your best option.
- Use a will writer – The only benefit of using a will writer is they are cheaper than a solicitor. However, they’re not regulated in the same way. So if you had a complaint they’re not regulated, whereas the solicitor would be regulated. We used will writer for our wills, and we made sure they were a member of a professional organisation. We were very comfortable that they were an expert in what they did and hadn’t just set themselves up as a will writer, which can happen. So if you’re going to go down this route, my tips would be to make sure that they are a member of one of these two professional organisations: The Society of Will Writers, or The Institute of Professional Will Writers. Get some recommendations from other people, and ask them what their experiences were, and maybe see if they have any qualifications.
- Use a solicitor – This, in my mind, is probably the least risky option, particularly if it’s a solicitor that deals with probate wills, estate planning and inheritance tax. If you have a complicated scenario; maybe you’ve got children from a previous marriage or lots of different assets, or maybe your estate is worth a considerable amount and is over the inheritance tax threshold. In this case I would definitely go to a solicitor, because you’ll want to consider the most tax efficient way to leave your will to the appropriate beneficiaries.
- Use a charity – A lot of wills can be made at particular times of the year through what they call Will Aid. This is normally around October to November time, and you can actually approach specific charities and in conjunction with local solicitors, they will work with that solicitor to help you draft your will. You then make a charitable donation towards the cost. There are lots of charities that participate in this, like Cancer Research and the Stroke Association, so that could be something you might want to consider.
- Get involved in Free Wills Month! – Members of the public aged 55 and over contact one of the firms of solicitors taking part in a Free Wills Month campaign during the designated month to request an appointment. The solicitor will help to draw up a Will that accurately reflects the wishes of the individual or couple. Those taking up the offer are under no obligation to leave a gift to one of the Free Wills Month charities, however, we earnestly hope that many will see this as a chance to help their favourite cause. Appointments are limited and are allocated on a first come first served basis. Once all available appointments are booked the campaign will close, this may be before the end of the campaigning month.
- Download the free Will Planner from Free Wills Month – If you are under 55 but still want to benefit from Free Wills Month, you can find a handy free Will Planner download on the Free Wills Month website.
What Areas Are Participating in Free Wills Month?
The following areas will be covered:
Birmingham, Bolton, Bournemouth, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Chester, Chichester, Cornwall, Cumbria & Lancaster, Derbyshire, East Cheshire, Exeter, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Huddersfield, Hull, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, Manchester, Mid & West Wales, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Northern Ireland, North Wales, Norwich, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston, Sheffield, Shropshire, Southampton, Stockport, Stoke-on-Trent, Swansea, Torquay, Wakefield, Wirral and Worthing.
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Get involved in Free Wills Month