Where there’s a will, there’s a way...
If you’re aged 55 or over (or in a couple, one must be), then solicitors in more than 40 locations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will draft a will for you for free. Enter your postcode at freewills month.org.uk and call to book an appointment with one of the participating solicitors.
Charities pay for the solicitors’ time so expect to be asked to consider leaving something to charity in your will. You don’t have to, but do if you can. Perhaps leave at least enough to cover the solicitors’ fees – typically £100 – £150.
November is Will Aid. This is a bigger scheme, right across the UK, open to any age. The website willaid.org.uk (or call 0300 0309 558) lets you choose a solicitor to call and book an appointment. Remember to say you’re calling as part of the Will Aid scheme.
They will ask for a donation of £95 (£150 for couples) to one of nine charities including Action Aid, NSPCC and the British Red Cross. You can do it online before your appointment. Print out the receipt and take it to the solicitor. If you can’t afford it, you can give less. For more ways to write a will for less, see my guide at mse.me/freewills
When you die, the issue is dispersal of your money. But if you lose your faculties through, say, a stroke or dementia, don’t assume relatives can access your money. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) would allow them to do that. You need to get one, now, while you have the mental capacity. You nominate a trusted friend or relative to look after your affairs. You’re not giving up control now. You choose for it to come into effect when you’re no longer capable. I’ve had one for years, and I’m 46. If you don’t have an LPA in place and you lose your faculties, your family will need to apply to take over your affairs via the Court of Protection. This can drag on for many months and cost in the £1,000s.
If you have simple finances, you can set an LPA up yourself by filling in the online form. In England & Wales it’s at gov.uk and costs £82. If you’ve more complex affairs a solicitor can do it, though it can cost over £500. There are some good halfway houses though explained at mse.me/poa
■ Martin Lewis is the founder and chair of Moneysaving Expert.com. To get his free Money Tips weekly email, go to moneysavingexpert.com/ latesttip