It’s not the happiest of topics, but getting your will sorted is one of the best ways to protect the ones you love. Research suggests just over half of us don’t have a will, including around three in five people who are parents. Although it usually costs to get a will made, you may be entitled to a free one, so why wait?
Why get a will?
If you’ve ever needed to deal with the estate of someone who’s died without a will you’ll know what a nightmare it can be. It’s so important to get your will sorted - for example, if you are in a long-term relationship but unmarried and not in a civil partnership, then your partner has no right to inherit. Keeping your will updated is also important, for example in England and Wales, if you get married then any earlier will is void.
Die without leaving a will and the only guaranteed beneficiary could be the taxman. If you pass away without a will and no living close relatives, the government will get the lot.
If you leave more than £325,000 (including the value of your house) - you may be liable to pay inheritance tax to HMRC, but a good will-making service or solicitor could help you limit this.
A will can also ensure your wishes about what happens after you die, such as the type of funeral or what happens to your remains can be provided for.
Where can I get a will?
Will writing is not a regulated profession, which means if the person drawing up your will makes a mistake that leads to your will being invalid, there’s little that can be done. Solicitors tend to cost more, as they are regulated and this means they need indemnity insurance to cover them for potential costly errors. You can buy DIY will kits, but unless you wish to leave a very straightforward legacy, you run the risk of it being invalid.
Even if your circumstances are relatively straightforward, such as if you have a small, close family, you may well be better off paying for a will-writing service such as Farewill (use promo code NEYBER to get a will sorted for £72).
If you have a more complicated property or family situation, such as step-children, a large extended family, friends who you want to give a slice of your estate, overseas property or trusts then you will most likely need to pay a solicitor to get a more complex will created. This could cost several hundred pounds.
How to get a will for free (or less)
The cost of wills can be off-putting, but there are quite a few schemes to help you get a free will, or at least a discounted one.
In return for charity donations
Many charities in the UK offer a free will writing service, either through partnering directly with will-writing services or solicitors, or through the National Free Wills Network.
Charities offer this service in the hope that you will leave a bequest to them (donation in your will). This can be a win-win way to create a will without paying for it now and also leave money to a great cause (inheritance-tax free!).
Below are some of the charities below that have an offer, but if there’s a cause close to your heart then check to see if they can help you arrange a will.
- Amnesty International Make A Will Month - free wills in March 2020
- The British Academy
- British Heart Foundation
- Cancer Research UK
- Children with Cancer
- The Children’s Hospital Charity - discounted wills
- Compassion in World Farming
- Dignity in Dying
- Guide Dogs - for over 55s
- Independent Age
- Liberty Human Rights
- PDSA - over 55s
- Shelter - for over 55s
- Soil Association
- Stroke Foundation - free wills for over 60s
- Will Aid - November only
If you’re over 55
In March, anyone aged 55 or over can take advantage of Free Wills Month. This month, solicitors around the country are giving up their time to write or update wills free of charge.
Trade Union Members
If you’re a member of a union, see if your union offers a free will writing legal service.
Around £15 billion of assets lie unclaimed in accounts of the deceased, all because millions of us died without a will. That’s a lot of money and property not going to the people or charities it should, so make sure that your money won’t join that amount and get your will sorted today.