Having a will gives you peace of mind, and you can even include a charitable donation in your will if you wish. Writing a will is easy — yet two-thirds of us don’t have one. “A will is one of the most important documents you will ever write,” says Rob Cope, Director of Remember a Charity. “People think it’s a complicated process, but it isn’t. Your solicitor or a qualified will writer will guide you through it: they are the legal experts so that you don’t have to be.”

Perhaps so many people in the UK don’t have a will because, to write one, you have to focus on the big issues. For example, who will look after your children in the event of your death? And how do you want to divide up your estate between family and friends?

“Our advice is make sure your loved ones are cared for first — and then decide on the amount that you wish to leave to the charity”

Of course, some people are also worried about tempting fate — but making a will does not mean you are about to die. One thing is certain, however. If you don’t have a will, you will have died intestate, making it a difficult and protracted process for your family to sort out your affairs. “We do hear stories about things going wrong because someone hasn’t made a will,” says Lucy Harmer, Head of Services for Age UK, which offers a free guide to wills and estate planning. “If you die intestate there can be problems — for example if you have a new spouse or second family and/or complicated housing arrangements such as property abroad.”

Charitable gifts

If you are thinking of leaving a gift to a charity in your will, it is easy to include — but consider your options. Would you prefer to leave a cash gift? Or a percentage of your estate? Whatever you

decide, be guided by your solicitor or will writer and make sure you include the charity’s name, address and registered number (which the charity will be able to give you). The amount you give to the charity can be as small or as large as you would like and it’s easy to change your will, or update it in the future to include another charity. If you already have a will but want to include a gift to a good cause, Remember a Charity recommends writing a new one.

“You may have been supporting a charity all your life,” says Cope. “So leaving a gift in a will is merely an extension of an established relationship. Our advice is make sure your loved ones are cared for first — and then decide on the amount that you wish to leave to the charity. If you want to decide which charity will really appreciate your gift, talk to them about it, remaining anonymous if you wish.”