Frequently asked questions

What is Will Aid?

Will Aid is an annual Will making campaign run collaboratively by nine leading charities, ActionAid, Age UK, British Red Cross, Christian Aid, NSPCC, Save the Children, Sightsavers, SCIAF and Trocaire. Will Aid would not be possible without the nationwide support of the legal profession, who generously give their services for free.

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that states the people and organisations such as charities that you want your money and possessions to go to when you die. It is best to have it drawn up by a solicitor who will make sure that the Will is legally valid and that your wishes can be carried out.

What is a basic Will?

Broadly speaking, for Will Aid a basic Will is suitable for anyone whose assets are below the inheritance tax threshold (£325,000 or £650,000 if your spouse pre-deceased you and did not use up their inheritance tax free allowance) and/or they are simply leaving their assets to a few family members and friends or charities. If, for example, any trusts need to be set up or financial or estate-planning advice given, then this would be considered outside the basic Will. Your solicitor will still be happy to take your instructions within the campaign, but you should agree a separate charge for this more complex work.

Why should I make a Will?

Writing a Will is the only way to be certain that your money and belongings will go to the people and charities you care about. As well as helping your family and friends in the future, writing a Will gives you peace of mind today. Find out if you need a Will.

When do I need to make a Will?

The simple answer is NOW.
Making a Will is both important and straightforward. You need to remember that when your circumstances change, your Will may become out of date. For instance, in England and Wales, if you marry or re-marry your old Will is automatically invalidated. Please make sure that your Will is up-to-date.

I already have a Will, do I need to update it?

Your Will needs to be updated when your circumstances change. For instance, if you get married, buy a property, have children, are separated or get divorced. You can update your Will with Will Aid - simply explain to your chosen solicitor the changes you need to make when you set up your appointment. Your solicitor will then advise you how to proceed.

How do I get in contact with a local Solicitor?

Click here to find a list of participating solicitors in your area. Just phone or email your chosen solicitor telling them that you would like to make an appointment under the Will Aid scheme.

How should I prepare for the appointment?

It is best to have thought about your wishes before you meet the solicitor. To help you we have devised a Will Planner, some notes on Will Making, and Leaving a Legacy to charity. These will make the Will writing process quicker and easier for you.

What will happen at my meeting?

Your solicitor will ask for your details and discuss your instructions. Your solicitor will advise how best to word your Will. If you do not have an executor, your solicitor will be happy to arrange someone at the firm to act on your behalf.

Your Will will then be drafted and sent to you for approval. Any changes can be made at this point. Once you are happy with the document, your solicitor will ask you to come back to the office to sign it in the presence of two witnesses. You can either take your Will home, or some firms offer to hold your Will in their strong room and give you a copy.

What if my Will is complicated?

If your Will is complex, you and your solicitor may need to agree a separate fee for the extra work involved. This can be established at your first meeting when you are discussing your circumstances.

How do I make my donation?

You can either give your solicitor a cheque made out to Will Aid (they will forward it to us) or you can donate safely online by credit or debit card by clicking here.

If you choose to donate online, please take a copy of your donation receipt when you meet your solicitor so that they know you have already donated.

Why is the suggested donation £95 or £150?

The donation is voluntary and at your discretion. Solicitors participate in the scheme to raise the maximum possible funds for the Will Aid charities. Instead of charging their normal fee for drawing up a basic Will they are asking that you consider donating an equivalent sum to Will Aid. Please respect the value of the service they are providing by being prepared to donate at the suggested level of £95 for a single basic Will or £150 for a pair of basic matching or mirror Wills. While solicitors’ fees vary round the country, most would charge considerably more than the suggested donation level.  This level has been set to make the process affordable for all.

How is the money raised by Will Aid spent?

The donations and income from legacies, is spent on the work carried out by the nine charities. Since 1988, more than £15 million has been donated through Will Aid and millions more has been promised in legacies. The donations have improved the lives of children, families, older people and whole communities in the UK and around the world. The income from legacies will help ensure that the vital work of the Will Aid charities continues for future generations.

Can I specify which of the Will Aid charities my Will-making donation will go to?

As Will Aid is a partnership of nine charities, they have agreed that the donations will be divided between them. However, you can leave a legacy to one or more Will Aid charities (or indeed any other charity) in your Will.

What if I want to leave a legacy to one of the Will Aid charities?

Making a Will is an ideal opportunity to support causes you feel strongly about. Legacies are extremely important for charities.  Not only are they a vital source of income, but knowing about legacies in advance helps charities to plan ahead.

A legacy gift to a registered charity can also be highly tax efficient as it is free from inheritance tax. So a legacy to a charity such as one of the nine Will Aid charities would effectively reduce any tax your family or other beneficiaries would have to pay. And it would mean so much to the many thousands of children and families throughout the world that the Will Aid charities support. Please click here for further information on leaving a legacy. Your solicitor will also be able to advise you.

Legacy 10 came into force on 6th April 2012. For people who die after this date and leave 10% of their estate to charity there is a corresponding reduction in the overall rate of Inheritance tax payable on the rest of the estate from 40% to 36%. It is also possible to achieve this saving by way of a deed of variation to insert the legacy to charity into a Will after someone has died.

Can the solicitor visit me at home?

Will Aid solicitors have volunteered to write basic Wills during November in return for a donation to the Will Aid charities. There will be a limit on the time and staff resources they can devote to the scheme. By and large, this means that the Will maker will need to visit the solicitor's office to have their Will drafted.

Some solicitors are willing and able to carry out home visits, but since there are additional costs in time and travel associated with this, they would usually charge for this extra service.

How do I register my Will for free with Certainty National Will Register?

As a special offer to WillAid clients, you can register your Will with the Certainty National Will Register for free (usual cost is £25 + VAT) as part of a special offer between Will Aid and Certainty.

The Register simply records which solicitor is storing your Will and does not hold a copy of your Will. Details of your Will are only made available to your beneficiaries.

What should I do if I have a problem with my Will Aid participating solicitor

It is very unusual for problems to arise with a participating solicitor.  However, because Will Aid works only through registered legal firms, you have the protection of the Law Society complaints procedure.

In the first instance you should complain directly to your solicitor about the poor service you have received. All solicitors have a procedure for handling complaints.

Each solicitors firm will have a designated complaints handler whose details may be obtained from the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Tel:0870 606 2555 or email: [email protected]

If you've complained to your solicitor about poor service or about their bill, and you aren't satisfied with your solicitor's response, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333, who can help to resolve your complaint for you.

If you live in Scotland you should contact the Scottish Legal Complaints Comission  or telephone 0131 201 2130 for further information

In Northern Ireland  please contact the Law Society of Northern Ireland  or telephone 028 9023 1614 for further information