How to create or update your will for free during Free Wills Month; or year round via Oxfam's free will writing service.
Free Wills Month brings together a group of well-respected charities to offer members of the public aged 55 and over the opportunity to have their simple wills written or updated free of charge by using participating solicitors in locations across England, Scotland and Wales. The will writing services are offered twice a year, normally in March and October, and are applicable only to British wills.
It's important to remember that if you don't leave a will, your assets may not be passed onto your nearest and dearest, especially if you aren't married. An up-to-date Will written by a trusted solicitor, whose vital role ensures your wishes are respected after your passing. It helps to avoid difficult decisions and legal complications for your loved ones during an emotional and difficult time. Many people are financially unable to afford the cost of writing a will or find the idea of setting up a will a daunting task, so with the help of a legal expert, they can benefit from legal advice and take advantage of the will writing partners, who are well trained and experienced in writing wills and ensuring that your will instructions are correctly recorded. The free will-writing service provided by Free Wills Month, can make a huge difference in making sure that your final instructions are carried out in the way you intended and that you are able to provide for family and friends, leave a lasting legacy, and leave a gift of any size to your chosen charities, too, should you wish to.
It's especially important to make updates to your will if there have been family changes, such as bereavement, additions to the family or changes in relationships. As an example, you may have divorced or had a family member divorced, and the ex-wife/husband may be mentioned in your will. Should you pass before the will is updated, you may be leaving assets to the divorced partner, whom, under the circumstances, you may no longer wish them to receive after your death, so events such as the free wills month mean you can update your will at no cost, which is an easy process, and for many the only way they afford to keep their will up to date.
How does it work?
Members of the public aged 55 and over contact one of the firms of solicitors taking part in a Free Wills Month campaign during the designated month to request an appointment.
The solicitor will help draw up a Will that accurately reflects the wishes of the individual or couple. Those taking up the offer are under no obligation to leave a gift to one of the Free Wills Month charities; however, it's hoped that many will see this as a chance to help their favourite cause.
The number of available appointments is capped, as this is a time and capacity-limited offer, and are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Once all available appointments are booked, the campaign will close; this may be before the end of the campaigning month.
How do you book an appointment?
Head to the Free Wills Month website, where you request a free information pack and/or can enter your details, and you'll be shown a list of solicitors who are participating in the scheme. You can then arrange a free appointment either at the solicitor's office or very often from the comfort of your own home, either in person or by telephone/online call.
What sort of will is included?
The campaign will cover the writing of ‘simple’ Wills. If your Will needs some more complex additional work, the solicitor may ask you to pay an additional fee to cover any unusual/extra work or if you wish to take advantage of their will storage service; however, most people only require a simple will if they have simple estates for the solicitor to manage.
Free Wills Month is intended for individuals or couples aged 55 and over. In the case of couples making ‘mirror’ Wills, it is sufficient that only one of the couples has reached the age of 55.
Free Wills Month is organised and operated by Capacity Marketing for Charities, on behalf of the Free Wills Month charities, and is run yearly by the organisers, and is an excellent way to make sure you have your affairs in order.
So what if I've missed free wills month?
If you've missed free wills month, all is not lost! The charity Oxfam offers a year-round free-will writing service.
Oxfam’s free will writing service is an exclusive opportunity to write or update your standard single or mirror Will for free. Oxfam partners with Will-writing providers to give expert advice, ensuring your final wishes and loved ones are well looked after.
The process is pretty simple:
You choose one of the three services Oxfam offers:- At-home appointment- Over the phone- With a local participating solicitor
Start your free Will - select your chosen option and provide your contact details.
A representative of Oxfam's Will writing partner will contact you and assist you in creating your Will within the next three weeks.
If you choose the solicitor route, You'll be sent a personalised list of local participating solicitors to contact. Details of taking advantage of the free service with them will be included.
If you live in England and Wales, all three services are available. If you live in Scotland, the only available service is the local solicitor option. If you live in Northern Ireland, you can access Oxfam Ireland’s free will writing service.
Once you’ve made key decisions about where you want your money and belongings to go, Oxfam's will-writing service is relatively easy. For help getting your affairs in order, download Oxfam's free Will Planner.
To find out the step-by-step process of the Free Will service, download the free Gifts in Wills Guide or request a postal version.
My first thought was that you'd need to leave a gift to Oxfam in your will; however, that's not the case; while there’s no obligation to leave Oxfam a gift, 65% of people do choose to, as a thank you for the free will and to help support Oxfam's ongoing services.
The free-will writing service is an ongoing service with no end date, and not only can you use the service to write a new will, but they will also help you update a current one should your circumstances change.
Wills aren't just for the older generation!
Getting a will when you're younger is a responsible decision that can provide several important benefits. Here are a few reasons why it's advisable to create a will at a younger age:
Ensuring Your Wishes Are Followed: A will allows you to specify how you want your assets and belongings to be distributed after your passing. By creating a will, you have control over who inherits your property, which can be particularly important if you have specific wishes or want to provide for loved ones who may not be your legal heirs.
Guardianship of Minor Children: If you have children who are minors, a will enables you to appoint a guardian of your choice to care for them in the event of your death. Without a will, the court will decide who becomes the guardian, and their decision may not align with your wishes.
Minimising Conflict and Disputes: A well-drafted will can help minimise conflicts among your family members and loved ones after your passing. By clearly outlining your intentions, you reduce the likelihood of disputes and potential legal battles over your estate.
Protecting Unmarried Partners and Stepchildren: If you're in a committed but unmarried relationship or have stepchildren, they may not automatically inherit from you. Creating a will allows you to provide for these individuals and ensure they receive a share of your estate.
Peace of Mind: Having a will in place brings peace of mind, knowing that your affairs are in order and your wishes will be carried out. It also relieves the burden on your loved ones during a difficult time, as they won't have to make challenging decisions on your behalf.
While it's true that wills can be updated throughout your lifetime to reflect changing circumstances, creating one when you're younger establishes a foundation for your estate planning and provides protection for both yourself and your loved ones.
protection for both yourself and your loved ones.