Gransnet forums

Sponsored discussions

   Please note: This topic is for discussions paid for by Gransnet clients. If you'd like to have your own paid for discussion thread, please feel free to mail us at [email protected] If you are a journalist, start-up or student and you want to request feedback from gransnetters, please post in Media Requests.

Do you have questions about writing or updating your Will? Ask Cancer Research UK’s representatives - £200 voucher to be won

(123 Posts)
CeriGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 09-Sep-21 17:32:31

This Q&A is now closed for questions

Many of us have already written a Will, but it’s important to regularly review it as a change to your family structure, a house move or a decision to pledge a legacy gift to charity all might mean your Will needs to be updated. With this in mind, Cancer Research UK Legacy Management Officer Chloe Fairbrother, and WBW Solicitors Partner, Catherine Causey, are here to answer your questions on writing or updating your Will.

Here is some more information on CRUK’s representatives:

Chloe Fairbrother
As a Legacy Management Officer at Cancer Research UK, Chloe is responsible for ensuring that our supporters' generous legacy gifts are received in accordance with the wishes in their Will. She supports executors to administer an estate, ensuring gifts in Wills go on to fund a third of Cancer Research UK’s life-saving research.

Catherine Causey
Catherine Causey qualified as a Solicitor in 2005, and specialises in all aspects of private client work. She is now a Partner and head of the private client department at WBW Solicitors – one of Cancer Research UK’s trusted legal partners offering advice via the Free Will Service.

Here’s what Cancer Research UK has to say: “Our Free Will Service allows anyone 18+ to easily write or update a simple Will for free. We partner with best-in-class Will-writing providers, so you can make sure your final wishes and your loved ones are well looked after. Many supporters have chosen to pledge a gift in their Will when using our Free Will Service, because they are passionate about supporting the causes that matter to them.

We want to hear from Gransnetters via this thread, if you are considering writing or updating your will and want more information on leaving a gift in your Will. Our representatives from the Free Will Service are here to answer any questions.”

So do you have questions about writing or changing your Will? Perhaps you’re unsure how to go about updating it now your circumstances have changed? Have you decided you’d like to include a legacy gift to charity in your Will but you’d like some more information on how it works?

Whatever your questions around writing and updating your Will, post them on this thread and Catherine and Chloe will be back with the answers later this month.

Cancer Research UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1089464), Scotland (SC041666), the Isle of Man (1103) and Jersey (247).

Gransnet prize draw

All who post on this thread will be entered by Gransnet into the Gransnet prize draw on 24/09/2021, where one lucky Gransnetter will win a £200 voucher for a store of their choice (from a list).

Vouchers of winner's choice will be an e-voucher ordered via the Voucher Express platform. Choice will be dependent on availability at the time. Winners will also have an option to select a 'VEX Gift Certificate" which will give them the option to select a physical voucher or gift card from the full Voucher Express range.

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw!


Gransnet Insight T&Cs apply

ChloeFairbrother Fri 01-Oct-21 19:38:04


I would like to update my will and include 3 other charities I have supported for many years. Originally my will did not include these. If using a charity's will writing service
would there be any difficulty in carrying out my wishes?


Our Free Will Service is available for our supporters to make a new simple Will or to update an existing simple Will. The addition of three other charities to your Will is a simple amendment and there wouldn’t be any difficulty in making this change.

ChloeFairbrother Fri 01-Oct-21 19:39:13


Is it costly to make changes to an existing will?

No, it is not always costly to make changes to your Will. This is usually dependant on the type of change and the complexity of the estate. If it is a simple case of adding or removing a gift in a simple Will, then that should be straightforward and not too costly. Please consider our Free Will Service. The solicitor you speak to will be able to advise you if the changes you wish to make will be free or if they would fall out of the scope of the free advice in which case you may be asked to pay the excess amount.

ChloeFairbrother Fri 01-Oct-21 19:40:45


When I update my will I will go to a Solicitors who does it for free but put the cost it would have been to a cancer charity or whatever. I would also leave a note for somebody to pass somes mines to a charity rather than stipulating it in a will.

It is always your choice if you wish to make a gift in your Will or a donation to our charity when you use our free Will service and we are most grateful for either.

You can choose to leave a donation through a clause in your Will which can either be a pecuniary gift (a specific sum of money) or a residuary gift (a share of an estate after all the other payments have been made). You can also leave a gift via a letter of wishes which is kept with your Will, although it is very important to note that this is not legally binding so the gift may never be made.

The key advantage of a leaving a residuary gift is that it doesn't lose value over time, for example the value of £100 over the last 20 years has changed significantly due to inflation whereas a percentage share of an estate will retain its value over the course of time.

Regardless of which you choose, gifts in Wills are a wonderful way to support causes that are close to your heart as they contribute to the long-term aims of a charity, providing security for years to come.

ChloeFairbrother Fri 01-Oct-21 19:42:34


We did a will quite a few years ago with a solicitor and it was horrible thinking through different scenarios regarding our children and their children (who they have not yet had - but imagining scenarios where a child passes away before a grandchild for example). Is it really necessary to go into that level of depth as it was really rather awful and emotionally upsetting to be thinking about it. Or is there a simpler way of trying to express a fair sharing out without having to think through all these horrible scenarios. It has really put me off revisiting the will to even check if it needs updating.


It is understandable that you found this experience distressing and I would advise that when it comes to reviewing your Will, you find a solicitor with whom you feel comfortable and who will approach these conversations in a sensitive manner. It is always advisable to discuss your wishes explicitly with the Will drafter to ensure that your intention is clear and can’t be misunderstood in the future. Unfortunately, this sometimes involves discussing situations that can be uncomfortable however, this should only be a small part of drafting your Will and a professional Will drafter should make every effort to put you at ease during this process.

ChloeFairbrother Fri 01-Oct-21 19:44:00


Do I even need to have a will or will everything automatically go to my only child?


If you pass away without a Will this is called dying intestate. Essentially, if you are unmarried or aren’t in a civil partnership, then your children will inherit your estate. It is always advisable to make a Will to ensure that your wishes are properly complied with, in case your circumstances change in the future. For example, if you pass away with no surviving relatives, your estate may pass to distant relatives who you don’t know or even to the Crown if no relatives can be located. It is also possible that the intestacy rules could change in the future and somebody else may benefit.

Making a Will with alternative beneficiaries will ensure that this doesn’t happen. Making a Will doesn’t have to be costly. Many charities, including Cancer Research UK, have their own free Will writing service which allows you to create a simple Will (for example where you leave your entire estate to your children) for free. Most people who use the service choose to pledge a gift to Cancer Research UK in their Will, although there is no obligation to do so. These generous gifts from supporters fund a third of research, helping to beat cancer for future generations.

CatherineCausey Mon 04-Oct-21 08:21:06


What do you need to include?


A simple Will tends to be the most common type of Will that people create. A simple Will is determined by the instructed solicitor and our partners will be able to advise whether your Will can be covered by the Free Will service. In a simple Will you need to consider the following:

1. Who you would want to appoint as your executors. Executors are the people responsible for sorting out your Will in accordance with your instructions contained within the Will

2. Who you would want as your Legal Guardians, if you have children under the age of 18 years old

3. Who is going to benefit from your assets. You also need to consider who next would benefit if original beneficiaries do not survive you. This is when many people choose to include a gift in their Will to charity, to continue to support the causes they care about after they have died.

4. Many people also choose to include their Funeral Wishes when creating their Will

CatherineCausey Mon 04-Oct-21 08:21:45


Where should you store your will?


You should always store your Will somewhere safe where it will not be destroyed or lost. I would always recommend being held by the solicitor who draws up the Will for you. As a solicitor, I register all our Wills with the Law Society’s endorsed provider of a national Will register and Will Search service.

CatherineCausey Mon 04-Oct-21 08:22:28


I would like to ask if a solicitor will be able to talk through different scenarios with me, or am I expected to go with a more or less firm idea in mind, please?
Also, a will I make now would have to be very different in 5 or 6 years time.
Would I have to keep updating it (at huge cost?) each time there is a change?


If you used an experienced Lawyer, I would expect the Lawyer to discuss all options with you to enable you to decide your final instructions. However, if you are able to spend some time before considering what you want to achieve this can be helpful.

We always advise clients to keep their Will under review and recommend they revisit every five years to check if the law or their circumstances have changed. Often no change is required but I would always recommend you discuss with the lawyer who completed your Will to check. If small changes are needed the cost could be minimal.

CatherineCausey Mon 04-Oct-21 08:23:19


Is it better to have new wills written or to have codicils added. We only need to change the executors and would like to add one beneficiary?


It is preferable to have a new Will so there is only one legal document but if you only want to change the executors and add one beneficiary you would be able to deal with these changes under a Codicil. At the time you will need to decide if you want to pay for a new Will which will be slightly dearer or the slightly cheaper option - a Codicil.

CatherineCausey Mon 04-Oct-21 08:24:07


Is there a point in a will if I have basically no financial assets at all? Just a few physical possessions that no one is going to fight over as they're not worth anything.


If you have no assets to leave or no minor children to consider with regards to guardianship, then you may consider you do not need a Will at this time. However, in the future you may have assets so we would always advise you to have in place a Will to ensure the correct beneficiaries inherit your estate.

CatherineCausey Mon 04-Oct-21 08:24:56


I have an old will but would like to update it. I don't want to use the same solicitor as last time but would the new solicitor inform the old one to destroy first will or is that up to me to inform them?


If you want the new Solicitor to inform your old solicitor and request your Will from them, this is something they will be able to do for you. When you have signed your new will this will revoke your old Will.

CatherineCausey Mon 04-Oct-21 08:25:35


Both the persons who witnessed my will have since died, do I need to write a new one?


The short answer is no as your Will is still valid. However, I would advise you to check through your Will to make sure it reflects your wishes. You should review your will at least every five years and after any major change in your life, such as moving house, having a child or getting married (which cancels any Will made previously).

CatherineCausey Mon 04-Oct-21 08:26:27


I don't now how detailed or not to be. Does everything have to be itemised? Should I leave bequests as a % and leave it to the executor to sell everything and send £s? Should I leave everything (unitemised) to one person? I get so stressed I haven't made a will,m but know that this is irresponsible and makes more work for someone else too.


This is where you need advice from a Solicitor, they will be able to advise you how to deal with each item under your Will. Percentages can be a sensible way to deal with your bequests for larger amounts as it is likely your estate will fluctuate in value from the time you make your Will until you pass away. Making a Will can be a daunting experience, but an experienced lawyer will be able to guide and support you through the process. We would always recommend that you make a Will to ensure the right people and causes you care about benefit from your estate.

steph8 Tue 05-Oct-21 23:43:19

If I specify what I would like to happen to my body after death eg burial or cremation, can my family divert from this and do what they prefer?

Mistyfluff8 Wed 06-Oct-21 06:51:25

I now want my husband to live in the house if I die first but my half of the house I want to give to my 2daughters .I do not want him to get any money ideally none at all when husband dies as well as he had bullied us for years for money

Judy54 Fri 08-Oct-21 14:13:39

So we have had a few replies to a small selection of questions. Great for the minority not so for the majority. All a bit of a waste of time in my opinion.

ChloeFairbrother Thu 28-Oct-21 09:25:08


Is there a way for an executor to take any action before probate is granted by the High Court and thus before a court order document is available to show the authority of the executor to act? For example if a water pipe bursts in the house, or if a dog needs looking after, or if children need looking after or medical treatment, or making a claim on house insurance if something like storm damage happens, or finding out about the house insurance and renewing it. necessary.


This is a completely understandable concern – no one wants to feel that they will be leaving their family in a difficult situation after they are gone.

Executors have legal duties and responsibilities which are set out in law, it can sometimes be an onerous role and when choosing your executors, you should give some thought as to whether they can, or want, to undertake the task. It is advisable to choose people who are competent and
trustworthy, knowing that if they are not legal professionals themselves, they can always take professional advice if they need to.

It would be very unusual for Executors to require 10 years to administer an estate and the circumstances of the estate would have to be very complicated for things to take that long. There are also some aspects of estate administration which must be attended to within certain periods, for
example payment of any Inheritance Tax, and simply postponing when a beneficiary would receive their gift would have no impact on the responsibility of the Executors to comply with those time limits.

It is possible, often with the use of trusts in Wills, to make arrangements by which beneficiaries only receive gifts at a determined point in the future. This can be complicated though and may not actually be the solution – for example, is it really in the interests of any party for a house to be left
unoccupied for a period of 10 years during which it may simply deteriorate? That may open the Executors up to all sorts of issues about their administration of the estate and incur expenditure that could otherwise be avoided.

The Cancer Research UK legacy administration team regularly work with Executors, both friends and family Executors and professionals. We don’t push Executors, instead we try to engage and encourage them by offering support and guidance.

ChloeFairbrother Thu 28-Oct-21 09:27:24


Is it the case that if one leaves something to a charity then unless and until the charity formally signs that it agrees with the executor's intentions that no beneficiary may receive anything, even if the charity delays due to a backlog of work causing delay?


Executors have legal duties and responsibilities and while that may include consulting with the beneficiaries of an estate, it is unlikely that a delay by one charity (or any other beneficiary) would prevent the executors from pressing on with the administration of the estate.

There are certain obligations on charities which sometimes mean they do not have the same ‘free-hand’ that another beneficiary would, or a charity may need a particular step taken to comply with the law. Where this applies, the charity would always be clear about the reason for those requirements and at Cancer Research UK we try to address such issues as early in the administration as we can, to avoid any delays at a later stage.

ChloeFairbrother Thu 28-Oct-21 09:28:53


At what age should I be thinking about drafting a will?


It is always a good idea to consider drafting your first Will or updating an existing Will whenever a big life event occurs, for example the purchase of your first property, a marriage or divorce or the birth of a child or grandchild. Cancer Research UK’s Free Will Service is available for all adults aged 18+ to write or update a simple Will for free. Leaving a Will lets you take care of your assets, your loved ones and the causes you care about after you’re gone.

ChloeFairbrother Thu 28-Oct-21 09:34:54

Thank you so much to all who left questions, it's been a pleasure answering them. Sorry we weren't able to get around to all of them but we hope to have provided you with some useful information on writing and updating your wills.

If you need further advice or guidance, we recommend you visit Cancer Research UK's Will Service page.

Take care!
Chloe and Catherine

SimonWillerbyBespoke Mon 15-Nov-21 15:11:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Annie2609 Sun 21-Nov-21 10:47:50

I had a will drawn up three years ago. My executors are my two younger sisters, who both live abroad. Since the pandemic I worry that they would not be able to execute my wishes. Could I make an amendment to my will rather than making a new one - and costing more money?