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Sophie Martin
Sophie Martin,
ASSOCIATE - SOLICITOR
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Your Will: the overlooked bucket-list item
17 April 2014

Boyes Turner Solicitors in Reading are working with Marie Curie Cancer Care to offer a Free Will to people aged 55 +. The offer is open until 31st May 2014.

The Marie Curie Free Wills Scheme offers people the opportunity to make or amend their Will, with the option to include a gift to support the charity's work in the future. The Marie Curie Nursing Service, provides free home nursing care to people with a terminal illness, 365 days a year.

Will writing specialists at Boyes Turner Solicitors who are based in Reading, will be on hand to offer advice and support under the scheme, which offers a limited amount of free wills on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no obligation to leave a gift to the charity, however, the hope is that many will use the scheme to settle their affairs and support Marie Curie's work.

Of the trendy terms to come around in the past decade, "bucket list" remains among the most useful. I think it reminds us of how precious our time is – and that it's important to plan wisely.

Unfortunately, after some have listed their items and even checked a few things off, they forget about one important item that really counts after they've 'kicked the bucket' – their will."

Of the 50 million adults living in the UK, almost 28 million (56%) do not have a Will, which is probably due to people not wanting to be reminded of their own mortality and that life will go on without them.

But what's the alternative? If you die without one, the state decides what becomes of your property, without regard to your priorities, As Legacy Advisor for Marie Curie Cancer Care I see on a daily basis what can happen when someone dies without a Will and the upset it can cause to family members. Why not enjoy the fact that a will is an instrument of power? You get to decide who gets what.

Since so many adults don't have a will, many don't understand how they work, but basically a will consists of four basic parts:

  • Executors — Most wills begin by naming an executor, the person responsible for carrying out the wishes outlined in the will. Duties include assessing the value of the estate, gathering the assets, paying inheritance tax and other debts if necessary, and distributing assets among beneficiaries. It is recommended that you name at least two executors in case your first choice is unable to fulfill the obligation.
  • Guardians — A will allows you to designate a guardian for your minor children. Whomever you appoint, you will want to make sure beforehand that the individual is able and willing to assume the responsibility. For many people, this is the most important part of a will since, if you die without naming a guardian, the court will decide who takes care of your children.
  • Gifts — This section enables you to identify people, organizations or Charities to whom you wish to give gifts of money or specific possessions, such as family heirlooms or a car. You can also specify conditional gifts, such as a sum of money to a young daughter, but only when she reaches a certain age. Remember Charitable Gifts are exempt form Inheritance Tax and if you leave 10% of your estate to Charity your Inheritance Tax Liability may be reduced from 40% to 36%.
  • Estate — Your estate encompasses everything you own, including real property, financial investments, cash and personal possessions. Once you have identified specific gifts you would like to distribute, you can apportion the rest of your estate in equal shares among your heirs, or you can split it into percentages. For example, you may decide to give 45 percent each to two children and the remaining 10 percent to a sibling.

You're not legally required to have a professional write a will for you, but here at Marie Curie we highly recommend you get certified help because these documents are often contested by people who are unhappy with the decisions you made. After working a lifetime for your assets, you deserve to have them go where you want after you're gone, and your family will be grateful to you for not leaving them with the headache of trying to sort out your estate.

For more information visit www.mariecurie.org.uk.

Marie Curie Cancer Care is the UK's leading end of life care charity. The charity provides free nursing care to people with a terminal illness, either in their own home or one of the charity's nine hospices. The charity is also a leader in research into the best ways of caring for people with a terminal illness. In addition to this the charity designs and advises on end of life services and works to ensure that the best possible care and patient choice is at the heart of commissioning end of life care across the UK. All Marie Curie services are completely free of charge. Around 70% of the charity's income comes from donations with the balance of funds coming from the NHS.

For further information, please contact our Wealth Protection team on 0118 952 7227 or submit an enquiry.

Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.

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