Making a will is the only way to ensure that on your death, your property and affairs are dealt with in accordance with your wishes. Without a will, the law decides what happens to your estate and how it is distributed. Many married couples and those in civil partnerships assume that when they die everything they own will automatically pass to their partner, however this is not always the case. Equally for unmarried couples there is no automatic right of inheritance for your partner.
"I'm one of the Founding Trustees of Children in Distress; I have supported its work from the first transport in 1990. I even set up and worked in our local charity shop to help raise funds but I never realised until I went to Romania and saw for myself what we have achieved, the young lives saved, infants living with HIV/AIDS once almost written off at birth, who are now bright and able young people; children abandoned because they were never expected to live, who now after therapy are trying to be the very best that they can be. I know that we can do so much for relatively little; we offer hope, life and a future. I'm proud at what we have achieved together over the years , and know that our work is only beginning, there are children in other parts of Eastern Europe who are still abandoned, unloved, uncared for, who daily cry our for our help.
My husband, Vic, and I have set aside a legacy in our will, since we know that every pound CID receives is well spent and makes a difference to lives of children we care for, but will never see." Mrs. Julia Clarke, Essex
Leaving a gift in your will can be a simple and inexpensive step in the process of making a Will. Following these steps may help:
- Value all your assets - start by making a list of everything you own. You can use the table in our guide to making a will to help you.
- Decide who will benefit - note all the people (or charities) who you want leave a gift to. Write their names and addresses and what you intend to leave to them.
- Choose a solicitor - making a will isn't as expensive as most people think but because it is legal document you are advised to use a solicitor. This will make sure that your will is legally correct and that all your wishes are clearly stated and carried out. If you don't already have a solicitor and don't know one then contact the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), the organisation which represents solicitors experienced in handling wills.
Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners Worldwide, 20 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1W 0GT.
- Keep your will safe - you can ask your Solicitor or your Bank to keep your will in safe keeping (there will be small charge for this). Alternatively for approximately £15 you may have it kept at:
The Record Keepers Department, Principal Registry of the Family division, 1st Avenue House, High Holborn, London, WC1V 6NP. Telephone: (020) 7947 7022
- Review your will on a regular basis - You should be aware of the dramatic changes in you circumstances, births, deaths and marriages, however sometimes these changes pass unrecognised. Which is why it is a good idea to review your will on a regular basis every 2 or 3 years.
Updating your will
It is easy to make a new will to recognise changes in family circumstances, but for minor alterations, you may just need to add a Codicil. This is simply an alteration or additions to the details you have already agreed, by which you can add extra beneficiaries, add extra gifts or even alter the sums being shared without making a completely new will.
- A Codicil - must be signed and witnessed by two people in the same way as your will. They do not have to be the same people who witnessed your original will and they should not be beneficiaries under the original will, any previous codicil or the codicil that they are asking them to witness.
- The Codicil - should be kept with the will, it changes to ensure that your wishes are not overlooked.
- The Codicil - should make it clear that it refers to your will that it alters.
Perhaps it may be written as follows:
This is the first Codicil to the will dated 1st March 2005 of Mrs Ann Other of Your House, 1 Your Avenue, Your Town, Your County. Your Postcode. 1) I give to Children in Distress of Suite 36/38, Ladywell Business Centre, Duke Street, Glasgow G4 0UW. Registered Charity No.1001327, the sum of £ xxxx (amount in words), to be applied by Children in Distress for the purposes of the charity and I further direct that a receipt of the Accountant or other officer of the charity for the time being shall be sufficient discharge to my Executors. 2) In all other respects I confirm my will dated 1st March 2005. Signed by: Ann Other. Dated: 1st March 2006. Signed in the presence of witnesses: Witnessed by: George Square. Signed: George Square. Dated: 5/3/05. Address: 1 High Road, Your Town, Your County, M1 2BY. Occupation: Solicitor. Witnessed by: Victoria Street. Signed: Victoria Street. Dated: 5/3/05. Address: Myholm, Near Home, Home County, B3 2AB. Occupation: Secretary
The wording of your will
In order to ensure that there is no misunderstanding in your will it is important that your solicitor refers to specific wording. The correct wording for the three most common forms of legacy to Children in Distress should include: For a share of your estate - I give all/a share of (state the fraction of percentage you intend)of the residual residue of my estate absolutely to Children in Distress of Suite 36/38, Ladywell Business Centre, Duke Street, Glasgow G4 0UW. Registered Charity No.1001327, to be applied by Children in Distress for its charitable purposes, and further direct that a receipt of the Accountant or other Officer of the Charity for the time being shall be sufficient discharge to my Executors. For a specific sum - I give to Children in Distress Children in Distress of Suite 36/38, Ladywell Business Centre, Duke Street, Glasgow G4 0UW. Registered Charity No.1001327, absolutely, the sum of (amount in figures, amount in words) to be applied by Children in Distress for its charitable purposes, and I further direct that a receipt of the Accountant or other Officer of the Charity, for the time being, shall be sufficient discharge to my Executors. For a specific item - I give Children in Distress of Suite 36/38, Ladywell Business Centre, Duke Street, Glasgow G4 0UW. Registered Charity No.1001327, absolutely, (write in here whatever you wish to give) to be applied by Children in Distress for its charitable purposes to be applied by Children in Distress for its charitable purposes and I further direct that a receipt of the Accountant or other Officer of the Charity for the time being shall be sufficient discharge to my Executors.