Nobody wants to spend too much time contemplating their own mortality – but far too many of us ignore the inevitable, and that can just cause more heartache for those we leave behind.
It’s estimated that around 30 million people in the UK haven’t yet made a will – and that includes a third of the people aged 55 and over.
Nearly everyone knows what they want to happen with their estate – they just haven’t got round to making it official.
But that can cause all sorts of problems – your estate could be tied up in red tape, your wishes might not be followed if the government takes on the job and has to follow strict rules about who should get what. A common law partner could be frozen out, for example.
Charities regularly team up with local lawyers to encourage people to make that all-important step.
And next month the Northchurch-based Hospice of St Francis is helping local people to make a will with its annual Make a Will Month this March.
Solicitors across its catchment area taking part in the scheme will waive or reduce their fees for preparing a standard will in lieu of a donation to the hospice.
Last year the fundraiser contributed more than £4,000 to the charity’s coffers.
Hospice trusts and major gifts manager Kate Rogers said: “I meet many people who just haven’t got round to making a will yet but it’s a big thing on their ‘to do’ lists.
“Our Make A Will month is a prompt to encourage people to think about their future wishes to ensure their assets and wishes are safeguarded for family and friends.
“We are very grateful to the nine participating solicitors in Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead and other towns who are happy to guide individuals through the process, making it as straightforward as possible.
“Make A Will month is not about leaving all your money to the hospice, but if you do want to include a gift to help fund our work it’s a lovely way of helping others from your local community in the future.”
Chris Jacobs, 66, from Tring, is one person who has done exactly that. Chris, who is also a fundraiser for the hospice, said: “I made my will during Make A Will month and decided to leave a legacy to the hospice because my father died in a hospice 20 years ago, and it nearly closed shortly afterwards through lack of funds, which would have been terrible.
“Over the years, I’ve known so many people who have benefitted from the care and support the Hospice of St Francis provides – not just patients but their families, friends and carers.
“There’s no better care and support and you never know when you might need it.
“We’re all going to float away on our clouds one day – how, when or where we don’t know, but it’s nice to know your money will help others to be cared for after you’ve gone.”
James Houghton from Austins Penny & Thorne in Berkhamsted added: “We are delighted to support this. We so often see the unfortunate consequences of intestacy.
“Making a will ensures your loved ones are protected whatever happens, and with the future assured you can concentrate on living.”
You can make appointments at Austins Penny & Thorne, Sumner & Tabor or Harrowell and Atkins in Berkhamsted, KK Law and Witts Moloney in Hemel Hempstead and Taylor Walton in St Albans and Harpenden.
Details of other law firms which are taking part can be found online at www.stfrancis.org.uk/MAW.