It’s never fun to think about our own mortality, yet one third of adults in the UK die every year without having made a will – known as dying intestate
If you die intestate, a set of inflexible rules dictates how your estate will be distributed and to whom. You’ve worked so hard during your life to attain the savings, property and belongings that represent your personal wealth – why would you not want to decide who gets what after you’re gone?
Under intestacy rules, any unmarried partners or stepchildren are ignored, regardless of how loving or long the relationship may have been. Even if you plan to leave everything to your spouse, without a will, your loved one becomes responsible for attaining ‘grants of letters of administration’ via the probate registry, which involves an interview and a great deal of bureaucratic form-filling. Not only will this process delay the release of funds, it is also likely to place added strain on your loved one.
It might also be useful to know that if you leave at least 10 per cent of your taxable estate to charity, you could reduce any inheritance tax liability against your estate, but you can’t leave a gift to charity without a will.
Mark, a Freemason, recently decided to leave a gift to the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) in his will after learning first-hand the life-changing difference the charity can make for those facing difficulty. ‘The MCF has been a comforting support for me and my children during my recent divorce and I am eternally grateful,’ he says. ‘I owe a lot to my brethren for their guidance and endless support during this period. I have only been a Freemason for two years, but the impact that both Freemasonry and the MCF have had on my life meant I wanted to give back in any way I could.
‘I decided to leave a legacy to the MCF, to show my children that there are more important things in life than our own wants and needs – helping to provide stability for disadvantaged or vulnerable members of society is one of them. My advice to those considering leaving a legacy to the MCF is to make sure your family will be provided for first, then think of how you could benefit the lives of those less fortunate than yourselves, both now and in the future.’
If you’re still not sure you’re ready to make your will, take a look at the Masonic Charitable Foundation’s website, which has lots of information about will-making and legacy-giving, and a useful downloadable guide. The MCF even provides an online will-making service in collaboration with Law Vault, available at www.mcf.org.uk/legacy.
So why not look after yourself, those you love and the causes you support now? Make a will.