Writing a will is your best ever opportunity to provide for the people and causes you care about - so it is important to get it right. Here are the answers to some of the most important questions.
Why should I bother to write a will?
If you die without a valid will, your estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. It could take years for your family to gain access to your funds and they may not receive all you would have wished.
Dependants not formally recognised as family (such as an unmarried partner) do not have automatic rights under the laws of succession.
Most wills are quite straightforward and take less than 45 minutes to set out. If your estate is complicated then your legal advisor will be able to help you through the process. Spending a bit of time preparing can help the process go even more smoothly.
How much does it cost to write a will?
Many people worry about the expense associated with writing a will, but it's a good investment in your family's future. A simple will can cost as little as £70 and a mirror will (for couples) can be written for around £120.
We would not recommend writing a will yourself. A professional can help you consider all eventualities and it is easy to overlook something or make a mistake that might invalidate your will or cause delays and disputes when the time comes.
What do I need to think about when writing a will?
Our guide to making or updating a will covers the basic process of writing a will and leaving a legacy to Deafness Support Network and contains a useful form to help you organise your thoughts. But, here are some of the most important issues:
List your assets
Make a list of everything you own of value e.g. property, vehicles, investments, savings and collectibles.
Work out your liabilities
List what you owe at the time of writing your will e.g. mortgage, loans, credit cards.
List your beneficiaries and your legacies
Write down the full name and address of people you intend to include in your will and be specific about what you want to leave them.
If you have dependants or pets, think about who will take care of them and how this will be paid for. If remembering a charity, it's a good idea to include its registered details.
These are our registered details:
Cheshire Deaf Society
(operating as Deafness Support Network)
144 London Road
Registered Charity No. 506791
Company Registration 1323762
Choose someone to carry out your wishes (executors)
Executors can be professionals, such as solicitors or banks, or a trusted friend or relative. If nominating someone who isn't a professional, please check they are willing to take on the responsibility.
Double check your draft will
Once your advisor has drafted your will, read it through carefully and make sure it is accurate and it says what you want it to say.
Keep it safe and sound
Once you have made your will, it is important to store it safely. Review it regularly to ensure it reflects your wishes and circumstances.
What if I just want to make a small change to my existing will?
Some changes in your circumstances (e.g. divorce or remarriage) can invalidate parts or all of your will so you should always check with your advisor. Minor alterations can sometimes be covered by a codicil form which you can download here. This works as an addition to a full will.
How can I be sure the money reaches the people I want to help?
We are committed to managing our funds efficiently and openly, and to making sure money is spent effectively and for the intended purpose.
Do charitable legacies affect Inheritance Tax?
For the 2009-10 tax year, estates worth more than £325,000 (the nil rate band) are eligible for Inheritance Tax (IHT), which is 40% of anything over that value - for example, an estate worth £400,000 would attract a tax bill of £30,000 (40% of £75,000).
Charities are exempt from IHT, so any charitable legacy in your estate does not count towards the nil rate band. So, in the example above, a charitable legacy of £75,000 would mean the estate does not attract any IHT.
Under the "spousal exemption" rule, one partner has always been able to leave as much money as they like to their surviving partner without tax being due, or assets up to the value of the nil rate band to anyone else (£325,000 in 2009-10 tax year).
Now, under new regulations, the surviving partner can transfer any remaining tax allowance from their spouse's exemption to their own personal allowance.
So, on the death of the second partner, IHT will only be paid if the estate exceeds the double allowance (£650,000 this year).
The government also backdated this change, so existing widows and widowers benefit from the increased allowance.
Some lifetime gifts are also exempt from IHT.
Remember, IHT can be complicated, so be sure to speak to your advisor about it before making or updating your will. For more information, visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/inheritancetax
What information do I need to provide to remember Deafness Support Network in my will?
When including a legacy to a charity, it's important to specify the charity's registered name, address and charity number.
For Deafness Support Network, these are:
Registered name: Deafness Support Network
144 London Road,
Registered charity number: 506791
Company Registration 1323762
Can I decide where my legacy will be spent?
Legacies are usually unrestricted gifts, allowing us to use the funds wherever the need is greatest. Although we will always try to fulfil people's wishes, leaving a legacy to a specific project can cause difficulties, especially if the programme has ended or we no longer work in that area. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this further.
Do I have to tell Deafness Support Network of my wishes?
Your will is a private document and you are under no obligation to tell us anything. We do appreciate it when people are happy to share their intentions with us, because it gives us the opportunity to thank them personally for this amazing gift.
Knowing that we will have support in many years to come also gives us confidence to commit to important long-term projects.
To let us know that you have included a gift to Deafness Support Network in your will, or that you intend to do so, contact the Chief Executive at:
Deafness Support Network
144 London Road
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