WHY MAKE A WILL?
Since 1964 NEA has achieved a great deal thanks to the generosity of our many supporters who have given their time and money to developing the work of the Charity. But there remain many future generations to serve and you can help them too by including a bequest to NEA in your Will.
This booklet is intended as a simple guide to making a Will. If you have not made a Will already, then we hope it will convince you that you should make one, and that you should make it now. We also hope that NEA can find a place in your Will as one more member of the family, which is what we wish to be. Whether it be through providing educational programmes for the young, activities for school children in our clubs, a home from home for university students, or whatever new projects we embark on in the future, NEA wants to be able to have the resources to serve the families of your own children and grandchildren, and theirs after them, not to mention many other families too.
It is an extraordinary fact that more than 6 out of every 10 people do not make a Will. Extraordinary, because without a Will your money and property may mostly disappear into hands unknown to you – and mainly to the Government. Without a Will saying what you want to happen to your money and possessions, the law lays down what is to happen to everything you owned. This means that provision is made for your husband or wife, children and blood relations, but not necessarily in the way in which you would have liked. For example, it could mean that a widow or widower has to sell the family home because other relatives such as nephews and nieces are entitled to a share of its value. It also means that lifetime friends or any charity you might have wanted to benefit would not do so. And if you have no relations at all, the Government takes all you leave.
In short, making a Will means that your loved ones and any charities you support can continue to be cared for after your death. But, of course, something positive must be done now, if your wishes and intentions are to be fulfilled. It is most important to make your Will while you have the opportunity, preferably taking professional advice rather than drafting it yourself.
If you are over 18, you may make a Will to dispose of your worldly goods and chattels. There is no need to delay making your Will, because as your circumstances change you can also change your Will. You can add to your wishes with a simple Codicil (for example to include a further child or grandchild, or to add a legacy to a Charity or some other good cause), or for more major changes you can even revoke your Will altogether and make a new one.
Many Executors of Wills in recent times have been surprised that people have died not knowing the value of their estate. Even where there was a Will, there are many instances where the true wishes of the deceased were not fulfilled because time, inflation and changing values had distorted the intention which appeared to be fully covered when the Will was prepared. A gift of £5000 in a Will prepared twenty years ago would have seemed like a lot more money then than it does today. Such a gift is called a Pecuniary Legacy and it is advisable to review your Will from time to time to make sure such Pecuniary Legacies roughly equate to the proportion of your estate that you intended. A way around this problem is to use Residuary Legacies whereby beneficiaries of your Will receive a proportion of what is left of your estate after the Pecuniary legacies have been accounted for. If you make no Pecuniary legacies, then your entire estate would be split according to the proportions laid down in your Residuary Legacies.
Because of inflated house and property values, most estates have become liable to the 40% Inheritance Tax – but anything left to a charity such as NEA is free of such tax – so while £10,000 which may be left to a non-charitable source can be reduced to £6,000 after tax, £10,000 to NEA remains £10,000.
HOW DO I MAKE A WILL?
The inserts will guide you in making your Will or in adding a Codicil to an already existing Will. It is always recommended to get professional help in drawing up a Will because it is easy to make mistakes and render your Will ineffective. This help is usually provided by Solicitors, Accountants or Bank Managers.
If you are making a Will for the first time, then start by filling in the insert Before You See a Professional Advisor. This contains all the information which is needed for drafting you Will. If you wish to alter your Will, then the inserts Codicil for Residuary Bequest and Codicil for Pecuniary or Specific Bequests should be used.
MAKING SENSE OF LEGAL JARGON
- Administrator If you do not appoint an executor in your Will or do not make a Will at all, an administrator is appointed when you die to distribute your estate.
- Attesting a Will Signing a Will in the presence of two witnesses who then affirm that they have witnessed the signature.
- Beneficiary A person or organisation benefiting from your Will.
- Bequest (or Legacy) A gift given in your Will.
- Codicil A separate document altering your existing Will or adding to it.
- Estate All your assets (ie money, house and other belongings) at the time of your death.
- Executor Person(s) appointed by you to distribute your estate according to the terms of your Will.
- Intestacy If you die without leaving a (valid) Will, you are said to have died intestate. Your estate is then distributed according to the statutory rules of intestacy.
- Pecuniary Bequest (or Legacy) A specific amount of money given in your Will.
- Probate (Grant of) The Court grants your executor(s) the right to distribute your estate according to the terms of your Will.
- Residue The remainder of your estate after all specific and pecuniary bequests, debts, tax and costs have been paid.
- Residuary Bequest The gift of a share of the residue of your estate.
- Specific Bequest A particular item given in your Will, other than money.
- Testator The person making the Will