Free Wills Month: what you need to know
Today marks the start of ‘Free Wills Month’, which means some aged 55 and over can get a will written or updated for free.
Having a will lets you decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death. It can also ensure you don’t pay more inheritance tax than you need to.
Die without a will, and the law decides who gets what under intestacy rules.
See our guide for more on Why you need a will.
So what is Free Wills Month?
Free Wills Month is a campaign backed by a group of charities including Age UK, Marie Curie and Oxfam. Under it, those aged 55 and over can go to freewillsmonth.org.uk, enter their details, and find a list of participating solicitors.
You’ll need to contact one to request an appointment. The solicitor will then draw up or update a will for free.
Appointments are on a first come first served basis, so book quickly to guarantee yourself a spot.
Can anyone get a free will?
Those aged 55 and over can take part in the campaign.
This time round it’s available at participating solicitors firms in the following locations: Blackpool, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Chesterfield, Chichester, Coventry, Crawley, Darlington, Eastbourne, Essex, Greater London, Harrogate, Hastings, Kent, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northampton, Peterborough, Sheffield, Sunderland, Swansea, Wolverhampton, Worthing, Wirral and Wrexham.
Is it really free?
The service is free for simple wills. If your will is more complicated, the solicitor may ask you to pay the balance yourself.
There is also no obligation to leave a gift to one of the Free Wills Month charities, although it’s hoped that you will, as this is why they support the free service.
The tax levied on the total value of your estate after you die. IHT has to be paid by the beneficiaries of your estate before they can receive any of the money from it. The money can’t be taken from the value of the estate _– it has to be paid before any money can be released. There is an IHT threshold – known as the “nil-rate band” – below which no tax is levied (£325,000 in 2011/12). Any amount above the nil-rate band is subject to tax at 40%. If your estate totals £600,000, there is no tax on the first £325,000; however your estate will pay 40% tax on the remaining £275,000, a total of £110,000. Prudent tax planning can reduce your IHT liability, so always consult a specialist solicitor.
Everything you own: all your assets (property, cars, investments, savings, insurance payouts, artwork, furniture etc) minus any liabilities (debts, current bills, payments still owed on assets like cars and houses, credit card balances and other outstanding loans). When you’re alive this is called your wealth; when you’re dead, it becomes your estate.