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Free Wills Month: Why it’s important to have an up-to-date Will

Jackie Worsfold is the Legacy Manager at Royal Star & Garter, a charity which provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia, from Homes in Solihull, Surbiton and High Wycombe. Here, she explains why it could be bad news for the people you love if you don’t have an up-to-date Will

Working in the Legacy department, I read Wills every day, but if you’re not familiar with the wording and terminology commonly used, not to mention the fact that it will be tucked away until you die – the thought of making a Will can be a daunting one.

It is thought that more than half of UK adults do not have a valid Will, and of those who do, about a third have not reviewed their Will for at least five years*.

It’s really important that you have an up-to-date Will as it’s the only way you can ensure that your wishes are carried out after you die.  From your funeral arrangements, to taking care of family, friends and even pets, and leaving a donation to a charity – all your own specific wishes can to be set out in your Will. And if it’s all set out clearly, it will be much easier for your Executors, your family, and your loved ones to sort everything out at a very sad time.

So, what reasons do people usually give for not having made a Will? Some assume that everything would go to their relatives anyway, or they have nothing to leave. Others think they are too young to need a Will or that the process of making one is expensive and long winded.

Let’s look at each of those reasons and bust some of the myths:

  • There may be people other than your relatives who you’d like to leave something to. Making a Will is the only way you can be sure that the people and causes you most care about will benefit when you die.  
  • No matter how old you are, if you have a pension, any dependents or you would like to specify the sort of funeral service you would like when you die, then you should make a Will to ensure your wishes are clear and can be followed exactly.
  • Making a simple Will need not be long-winded or expensive, and many charities, including Royal Star & Garter, offer their supporters the opportunity to make their Will for free.

It can be daunting to get your Will organised, and as a result, lots of people do put it off, however there is huge peace of mind once it’s done.

If you have a Will, it is recommended that it’s reviewed every five years or so as circumstances change throughout your life.  You should always review your Will when there is a major change in your life such as:

  • If you get married, divorced or separated
  • If you have new children or grandchildren
  • If anyone who is named in your Will dies before you
  • If the person you’ve named as Executor in your Will dies or is no longer able or willing to take on that role

If you die without a valid Will then it is said that you die intestate.   Should this happen, all of your property – known as your Estate – would pass to your closest next of kin.  Usually this is your spouse – so your wife, husband, or civil partner – and if your Estate is large enough, some of it may pass to any children you and your spouse or civil partner have together or have adopted.

If you live with your partner but are not married or in a civil partnership, if you have children from another relationship, or stepchildren, or other relatives by marriage (i.e., in-laws) it’s important to remember that they would not receive any of your estate if you were to die intestate.  If you have no blood relatives at all, everything will go to the Crown.

So, you can see how important it is to have a valid Will, so that the family or friends or good causes you care about can inherit from you should you die.

By making a Will you can ensure that all your wishes are carried out when you die.  This includes:

  • Leaving specific items such as jewellery, furniture, pictures etc. to the person or people you’d like to have them.
  • Your funeral arrangements – you can outline the type of service you’d like, whether you have any religious requirements, what music you’d like, whether you’d like to be buried or cremated and where your final resting place will be.
  • Arrangements for dependents such as children or even pets – who will look after them and where they will live.
  • Appointing Executors – the people or organisation to be responsible for carrying out the terms of your Will following your death.
  • Leaving a gift to a charity to support a cause that is close to your heart.

So how do you go about making a Will? There are several ways to write or update your Will and Royal Star & Garter recommends that you consult a solicitor or a Will writing expert to ensure that your wishes are properly carried out.

You can find out more by contacting the Legacy team at legacies@starandgarter.org or by telephone on 020 8481 7676.

* Source:

From the FT August 2022: More than half (56 per cent) of UK adults do not have a valid will, rising to 79 percent for those aged 18 to 34, according to research by insurer Royal London in September 2021. Of those who had wills, about 30 per cent had not reviewed them for at least five years.

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