Whether you have a will already, or you’re planning to write your first will, it really isn’t hard to do. Read below how to include a gift in your will. It’s best to visit a solicitor, to make sure your wishes for your family and any charities can’t be misunderstood later on. Dying without a will can create many problems for those left behind, at an already difficult time.
How to make your will
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You may have a family solicitor or Will writing professional you already use. If you are making your will with your partner, you can make a ‘mirror’ (identical) will if they are broadly the same.
Before you meet with the solicitor for will-making advice, it is a good idea to think about:
- The main things you own – like a house, shares, endowments, savings or life insurance policies – and roughly what they are worth.
- Who will carry out your wishes (Your Executors).
- What kind of gifts you want to leave the people and charities you care about.
The executors of your will are the people who administer your estate when you are gone. They tell the beneficiaries about their gifts, and settle any debts you owe. They also deal with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the UK and/or the Office of the Revenue Commissioners in Ireland if necessary.
You need to choose some people you trust, and they need to be prepared to take on this important responsibility.
You can name a family member, or a friend (including someone benefiting from your will).
Alternatively, you can use a professional like an accountant or solicitor (who will normally require payment from your estate). Or, if you prefer, any combination of relatives, friends and professionals.
Residuary gifts are made from whatever is left over once gifts of money and specific items have been distributed. You can give the whole of the residue to a person or a charity like St John’s Hospice, or divide it as you wish.
Pecuniary gifts are specified sums of money.
Specific gifts are things, such as a painting, a house, a car or a ring.
Do I have to be wealthy to leave a gift in my will?
Not at all. Many of our nurses have been funded from a gift someone has left in their will, or a number of gifts, but so have lots of nurses’ uniforms, bedding for our In-Patient Unit, syringe drivers, and providing patients with nutritious meals. Whatever you can afford, we will turn it into something important and tangible.
Including a gift to St John’s Hospice in your will doesn’t affect how much money you have to provide for old age. Your estate is calculated based on whatever is left after you die. If you arrange your gift to St John’s as a residuary gift, it will only be paid out after all the other gifts you leave to your family or friends have been made.
Wouldn’t it be better to help now rather than later?
Many people who leave a legacy to St John’s also support our hospice services during their lifetime, through fundraising or giving donations. Others use their wills to support our continuing and outstanding care for the first time.
Will my money be put to good use?
As many as one in five of our patients each year are cared for because of gifts in wills. They help us to invest in caring for more people in the community who are nursed at the end of their life by our Hospice at Home team. Gifts in wills also help us to continue to improve and develop our services so we can be here for future generations.
What will my family think?
Your will is a reflection of what matters to you, and for most people that is their family and friends. St John’s Hospice is all about caring for people and their families, and so of course we believe you should think about the people you care about first when writing your will.
Putting a gift in your will to charity doesn’t stop you doing that, especially if the gift is from whatever is left over after all your gifts to family have been made.
We find that most families are proud of the gifts their loved ones leave to their local hospice.
Can I choose how my gift to charity is spent?
Yes, if that is important to you. Most people leave their gift to the St John’s Hospice without specific conditions so that it can be used wherever it will have the greatest effect. And it can be hard to know where that will be 5, 10 or 20 years ahead.
But if a particular service has a special significance for you, we are more than happy to discuss the different options available.
Can I add a gift to an existing will?
Usually, yes. You should use a solicitor to do this, to make sure it fits smoothly with the rest of the gifts in your will. Under no circumstances should you write on an existing will itself, and you should keep any codicil you make with your existing will but not physically attached to it.
Do I need to tell St John’s Hospice about a gift I’m leaving?
You don’t need to, but if you would like to tell us that would be wonderful. We would love to say thank you, and to keep you informed and inspired by our work.
What if I change my mind about a gift to St John’s Hospice?
Circumstances change; we understand that. If you would like to change your mind you can do so. Simply contact your solicitor to make any changes.
Beneficiary: Any person or organisation that receives a gift in your will.
Bequest/legacy: A gift in your will.
Codicil: An addition or change to an existing will.
Estate: The total sum of all your possessions, property and money (including life insurance policies and shares).
Executor/executrix: The man or woman you ask to administer your estate when you are gone and make sure your wishes are carried out.
Inheritance tax: The tax due on your estate if it exceeds a certain threshold.
Intestate: The word used to describe someone who has died without a will.
Pecuniary bequest: A gift of a specific sum of money in your will.
Probate: This is the legal administrative process of settling your estate after your death. It involves your executors (see above) applying for proof of their legal right to deal with your estate, so that they can settle any outstanding financial obligations, and then distribute your money, property and possessions according to your wishes.
Residuary bequest: A gift of whatever is left over once all other gifts have been made from your estate. You can leave all of the residue or divide it up into portions.
Specific bequest: A gift of a thing, like a house, a car, an antique or a necklace.