Saturday, 1 October 2016

Where there's a will

Amongst all the exciting projects that are happening on the smallholding, there are still some mundane, practical things that need to be done. Sorting out plans for the future is one of those things. I need to update my will so that it reflects my current circumstances and it's been on my mind to get around to it and now seems a good time to tackle it.

I guess I should state that this is not a sponsored post, it's just my thoughts about what for many, can be a difficult subject.

I have very little to leave anyone but I do feel that I have a responsibility not to die intestate (without a will) because that would leave my loved ones with the headache (and potentially heartache) of trying to sort out my estate and the government of the day would decide which direction any belongings will end up. The last thing I want is for my daughter or Mr J to be worrying about legal stuff when my time comes.

I made a will a couple of years ago using a specialist will writing company and I paid around £250 for the service. Now I simply don't have that kind of cash lying around to spend on legal services, so I've been looking at other options. 

My father talked to me at length and on several occasions about his will, his wishes and what was likely to happen once he was gone. Far from being morbid, these conversation brought us closer together and we both became quite comfortable talking about the inevitable future event. He was highly organised and had a file in his filing cabinet marked 'Life & Death' in which he kept a copy of his will, copies life insurance papers etc. which made the practicalities so much easier for us. Luckily my mother (who was generally much less organised than Dad) kept most of her paperwork in the same file, so when the time came to sort out her legal matters there wasn't too much hunting around to do.

With the memories of Dad's conversations in mind, I have started to talk with my daughter about my will, where it's kept, what she'll need to do etc. Hopefully she won't need any of this information for many, many years, but I am happy in the knowledge that among all the things that she may be feeling when I die, confused about what she needs to do as my executor won't be one of them.

Did you know that you can make a will free of charge via a charity campaign? This isn't you taking help from others, it's a valid part of a charity's fundraising efforts. If you don't feel that you have anything to donate to a charity, then you don't even have to leave anything for them, although of course, I think they'd like it if you did.

Anyway, charities find their funding sources from all over the place and legacy funding is a key part of many charities fundraising. For some of the charities I've worked for in the past it has been the source of the bulk of their funding in a year.

I did a quick search online this morning to see which charities have free will writing campaigns running in the near future.

The Free Wills Network has over 50 charities signed up to it, so you if you contact your favourite charity and ask them if they are part of the scheme, then they should be able to put you in touch with a solicitor who can write a will for you under the scheme.

I had a great chat with a funding manager at the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I.) yesterday about legacy giving and he was super helpful. They are part of the Free Wills Network, the next campaign starts this week, but there is also another campagin in March.

Free Wills Month starts on Monday 3rd October, it's for folks over 55 years old and works with loads of different charities.

Will Aid month is in November and it supports nine charities, they suggest a donation of £95 for a single will and £150 for a pair of mirror wills.

Some individual charities have information on their websites about legacy giving and a quick phone call to them should help you find a solicitor who will help you write a will.

There are of course, many other schemes that allow us to make wills free of charge or for a small donation and an online search should help you find them.

All this thinking and planning is thirsty work, I think it's time for a cuppa!

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