Wills Here are some of the mostly commonly asked question we receive about making a will and leaving a gift to Age NI. I haven’t written my will yet. How important is it that I write one and how complicated is it? Writing a will is a crucial way to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death and something that you should do sooner rather than later. Making a will is particularly important if you are cohabiting with a partner but not married to or in a civil partnership with them. Contrary to what many people believe, there is no such thing as a common law wife, husband or civil partner. Even if a couple have lived together for many years and have children, they are not regarded in law as related. In fact, if a cohabitant dies without having written a will, the rules of intestacy mean that the other partner will not receive anything. Preparing your will needn't be a complicated process and it means your loved ones can carry out your wishes easily. We always recommend that you use a will writing professional such as a solicitor, who will be able to guide and advise you. Can I use a DIY will? It is tempting to try to cut the cost of preparing your will by buying a kit online or from a stationer. However, we would strongly encourage you to get expert advice from a will writing professional such as a solicitor. Expert advice is particularly important if you have children aged under 18, if you own a business or if several people who depend on you financially could make a claim on your estate. The guidance of a solicitor or will making professional will help make sure that your wishes are expressed in a way that will not cause problems for your family and friends after your death. Where should I keep my will? Once you have prepared your will, make sure that a close friend or relative knows where it is. Most solicitors will store your will for free. Leaving a gift to Age NI in your will can help older people feel secure, supported and reassured that they always have someone to turn to. If this is something you believe is important, the answers to these commonly-asked questions may help you decide. How can I take care of my family and leave a gift to Age NI too? Once your loved ones have been taken care of, we hope you will consider leaving us a gift in your will. If you’re worried about not having enough to leave, you could consider a residuary gift rather than a fixed sum, as it’s less likely to devalue over time. Leaving a gift in your will is one of the most affordable ways to support Age NI. It provides an opportunity to give more than you might have been able to during your lifetime. Any gift made in your will to Age NI also has the added benefit of being exempt from inheritance tax (IHT) and could even reduce the liability for your loved ones if your estate is over the IHT threshold. For further information visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/inheritancetax or speak to your solicitor. I’m not sure what to leave as a gift. What are the different types? You can choose to leave a residuary gift (a share of your estate after taxes and debts have been paid), a pecuniary gift (a fixed sum of money) or a specific gift (a gift of property, a specific possession such as a painting or stocks and shares). Many people think they have nothing of value to leave but even leaving your favourite chair to an Age NI Day Centre or donating your books to our charity shops can make a difference. Whatever the value of your gift, it will go a long way to help someone who needs us. How easy is it to leave a gift to Age NI in my will? It’s very easy to include a gift to Age NI in your will. If you already have a will, there’s no need to rewrite it. A qualified professional such as a solicitor can draft an amendment (called a codicil). Alternatively, you can use this codicil form (PDF 153KB) to add a gift to Age NI in your existing will. Adding an amendment also provides an opportunity to update your will. Circumstances change and it is a good idea to review your will every few years. Do I need to let Age NI know if I’ve left a gift in my will? If you decide to include a gift in your will you are not in any way obliged to tell, but it would give us the opportunity to say thank you. Letting us know means we can reduce our costs by not sending you unnecessary information in the future. It will also help us plan for the future with confidence that we will have the necessary long term income to meet the needs of our ageing population. Commonly used terms you may come across when you write your will. Beneficiary – a person or organisation that will receive a gift in your will Bequest – a gift you leave in your will to individuals and/or charities Codicil – a change or addition to your will Conditional Legacy – A gift subject to the fulfilment of a condition (e.g. ‘if my partner dies before me, I leave the residue of my estate to Age NI’) Estate – the total sum of your possessions including property and money once debts have been taken into account Executors – the people you have chosen to carry out the wishes in your will after your death Intestacy – the legal situation arising if you die without a valid will Legatee – a person or charity who receives a gift in your will Pecuniary Legacy – a specific amount of money left as a gift in your will Probate – the legal procedure that establishes that a will and codicil are valid Residuary Legacy –a proportion of the remainder of your estate Reversionary – a gift that passes to a named beneficiary after the death of everybody with a life interest in the estate Specific Legacy – a particular named item left as a gift in your will Testator – the person making a will Age NI Wills and Estate Planning Guide This guide is designed to highlight the benefits of making a will, the issues you should think about and the areas in which you need to seek professional advice. Download Age NI Wills Guide (PDF) Alternatively, email your name and address to [email protected] or call 028 9024 5729.