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Why make a Will?

In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin famously said that there were two certainties in life - death and taxes.

By making a Will you decide who inherits your assets on your death and you potentially take steps to reduce any tax payable. If you don’t have a valid Will in place then there are fixed rules (known as the Intestacy Rules) that dictate which family members inherit your assets and when. Don’t leave matters to chance. Take control of your affairs and make a Will, as without a Will your loved ones may not be provided for and could be left in financial hardship.

Take control, keep your Will up to date! Life has a habit of changing, often when you least expect it. So, it is vital that you keep your Will up to date particularly in the light of changes to your personal and family relationships as well as changes to your personal wealth. Many people do not realise that if you marry or enter into a civil partnership, then any Will you had in place prior to this, is automatically cancelled by law, unless the Will expressly provides for it to continue after the marriage or civil partnership. Updating your Will is easy. Simple changes such as a change in the Executors or adding a gift (known as a legacy) can be done by simple Codicil. More substantive changes can be done by making a completely new Will.

Why should I leave a legacy to a charity in my Will?

Leaving a legacy to a charity in your Will can benefit both the charity and your estate. Wills are the main source of income for most charities and are currently worth around £1.3 billion per year!1 This sounds like a lot but once you consider that there are 185,000 charities in the UK2 these legacies do not stretch far. Charities rely on your donations to keep up their good work. Inheritance tax is payable on the value of your assets above £325,000 (2010-11) at a rate of 40%. By leaving a legacy to a charitable organisation in your Will you can help to reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable on your death, as gifts to charity are exempt from inheritance tax.

How can I benefit a Charity in my Will?

There are many different ways in which you can benefit a charity in your Will. You could choose to leave gifts of money, specific assets or even the remainder of your estate once family and loved ones have been provided for.

Where do I go to make a Will or Codicil?

It is essential that your Will or Codicil is drawn up professionally by a lawyer who specialises in this area of law and is a member of an established organisation such as the ones below:
• The Law Society T: 0207 242 1222 www.lawsociety.org.uk
• The Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners (STEP) T: 0207 7340 0500 www.step.org
• Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) T: 0844 567 6173 www.solicitorsfortheelderly.com

Making or updating your Will gives you peace of mind that you have put your affairs in order and provided for the persons that mean the most to you. It gives you the opportunity to make a charitable donation that could make a difference for many years after you have gone - what a wonderful lasting legacy to your memory.

1 figures taken from www.rememberacharity.org.uk
2 statistics taken from www.charity-commission.gov.uk

Michelle Gavin is an Associate at Martineau, Birmingham, tel: 0870 763 1468