Dying Matters Awareness Week & the Importance of Writing a Will

This article was published on: 05/20/15

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This week the National Council for Palliative Care’s Dying Matters Coalition have been hosting events up and down the country in the hope to encourage more people to open up and talk about the death.

As part of this, we attended a local event at Stocks Hall Care Home in Skelmersdale yesterday, to give a talk on why it is so important to plan for the future, particularly after death and make sure that you have written a professionally drafted will.

The response and turnout for this event was a huge positive but for those who have not been able to attend this or one of the many similar days being held across the country this week, we have put together some useful information that may open your eyes as to why events raising awareness for these matters are so badly needed.

Did you know according that 61% of UK residents do not have a Will, with 46% of people aged 55-64 falling into this category? More worryingly 77% of parents in the UK, who have children under the age of five, also do not have a Will.

We all value the lives we have been given and most of our time is dedicated to doing exactly that and not thinking about what happens after we are gone.

The question you should stop and ask yourself though. is who will look after those people who are most precious to you when you are no longer there to?

Dealing with the grief of losing you from their lives will cause enough distress for your partner and your children, but imagine having to deal with the additional legal wrangles that can, and often do, follow, in regards to what you leave behind?

There is nothing wrong with living life to the full, everyone should do it and it is a nice thought that we will all live until our twilight years. But accidents do happen and the reason we live each day to the full is because you never know when your time could be up. That is why it is so important to consider making a Will now, rather than leaving it until later.

If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, I am okay, I have made a Will and everything is in place, ask yourself, when the last time you reviewed it? Nearly half of UK parents with a child or children under the age of 5 who have made a will, have not reviewed it within the last five years.

Can you honestly say that your situation is the same today as it was five years ago? In most cases the answer is probably no. Why is it important to review your Will? Well you may have had another child or separated from the partner you were with when you wrote your original will.

Other instances that make it crucial to review your will is that you may have inherited from a relative and that may in turn have pushed you over the inheritance tax threshold or you have not planned properly what to do with your additional inheritance.

Or it could be that the people you have chosen to be guardians of your young children in the instance that you pass away have moved away to another area of the world or even that you have fallen out with them.

Reviewing your will ensures that after you are gone, everything that is near and dear to you is looked after in the way that you currently wish it to be. Therefore we recommend that you review your will once every three years to make sure you are happy with everything as it is, not as it was.

Can you write a will yourself?

Yes it is possible for you to write your own will and currently one in eight people rely on self-written wills. Obviously, having a will is much better than the alternative and if you feel more comfortable writing your own then this is something that should be encouraged.

But, it should be noted that the validity of a self-written will is far more likely to be challenged upon death, than a carefully constructed Will with your local solicitors.

Writing a Will without professional knowledge can be extremely risky and even the simplest mistake, could lead to your Will being deemed invalid, which in turn will result in additional stress to your loved ones, who will still be coming to terms with losing you.

There are many instances where it is in fact best not to write your own will. If you own property abroad or you own a business that you are leaving to someone as part of your will then it is imperative that you seek the help of a professional.

Or if you have people who are financially dependent on you, other than your immediate family or you any of the wishes you have for your estate maybe complex and easily misunderstood, it is always a good idea to take professional advice.

All over the country this week, Dying Matters are hosting awareness events, where talks will be given by local professionals in such issues as care and future planning, designed to help people talk about death more and learn to prepare for it and what lies beyond.

If you haven’t been able to make one of these events and would like further advice on Writing a Will, feel free to contact us on 0800 61 43 61.