Lord Dowding Fund for humane research


National Antivisection Society

How to write a Will

11 February 2016

Once you have decided to write your Will it can be more gratifying than you would imagine. It is an opportunity to show your appreciation for those you love, and help the causes most dear to you.
Here are some easy steps to follow, and we have included some checklists to complete, to help in your preparation:’

’Can I do it myself?’
It’s always best to have the final document drawn up by a professional advisor such as a solicitor (lawyer). There are standard forms available, but the wording you use may be open to misinterpretation, causing unnecessary worry and heartache for your family. A solicitor can help avoid this.

’1. Choose a solicitor
Someone you know may recommend a solicitor, or you can look in your local telephone directory. A solicitor will make sure that your Will is written clearly and is legally binding.

’2. List the things you own
We can send you a copy of our list, to help you to value your estate. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much you are worth! Preparing this before you go to your solicitor will save you time and money; you can then give it to your solicitor to help them draw up the Will.

’3. Who do you wish to benefit?
You need a list of ‘beneficiaries’ those family, friends and organisations to whom you wish to give money or gifts. Make a list of the names and addresses of people and organisations that you wish to benefit in your Will, and take this to you solicitor as well.

’4. Children
It may be appropriate to set up a trust if you are planning to leave money to young children or grandchildren, ask your solicitor. This can reduce tax, and holds the money for them until they are older.

’5. Pets
Do you have any pets you wish to have looked after? Your Will is an opportunity to make sure they are taken care of. The Lord Dowding Fund would be delighted to help you with care, or homes, for your pets.

’6. Specific bequests
Specific bequests can take the form of sums of money or objects of value which you may wish to leave to named people or named organisations. Make a list of these.

’7. What to do with the residue
Your estate may in crease in value over time. This could mean that after all expenses have been paid and all legacies and gifts handed out, there will still be money left over, (called the ‘residue’ in the UK). This unpredictable amount is most conveniently left to a campaigning group such as National Anti-Vivisection Society (free of tax). It is essential that a Will deals with the residue of the estate.

’8. Appoint executors
Appointing an executor - someone to carry out the instructions contained in your Will - is the next step. An executor can be a trusted friend or a family member over 18, and can also be a beneficiary of the Will. You can have two to four executors; often one of them is a paid professional, such as a solicitor, and their fees will come out of your estate.

’9. Sign before witnesses
Each Will needs two neutral witnesses. Often these are members of the solicitor’s staff. A solicitor can sign the Will on behalf of a blind person or a person who is unable to write.

’10. Keep a copy
After signing, it is a good idea to let your solicitor or bank manager look after the original of your Will. You should take a copy for your own reference, and let your executors know where the original is kept.

’11. Remember to update your Will
If there is any change in your circumstances, you should change your Will. Marriage, separation, divorce, children, change in financial circumstances, the sad loss of someone you intended to benefit in your Will, or organisations you may wish to benefit, can all affect your Will. Usually, all that you need to do in these instances is amend your Will by making a ‘codicil’. Your solicitor can help you to do this.

’12. Tax (advice for those in the UK)
Inheritance tax can be substantial, it affects more people than is generally realised, and there are a number of ways to reduce it:

’Gifts now: Gifts given more than seven years before you die are free of inheritance tax. Small gifts up to a certain limit each year can be made without incurring liability for inheritance tax. All gifts between spouses are exempt.

’Life assurance: You can name anyone or any organisation as the beneficiary of an assurance policy taken out on your life. The money they receive will be tax free. This could be a good way to benefit an organisation like the National Anti-Vivisection Society.

’Trusts:’ Trusts for the education, care, or maintenance of children or disabled people, or pets, can have tax advantages.

© National Anti-Vivisection Society