Your questions about gifts in Wills answered

Questions about Wills

Why is it important to make a Will?
A legal Will ensures that your wishes are carried out. It allows you leave gifts to the people and causes you care about, ensuring that your estate doesn't go to the Treasury. It may also help to minimise the tax on your estate.

When should you make a Will?
Everyone over the age of 18 should make a Will, and it’s especially important if you have family to look after. You should also update your Will throughout your life to ensure it remains in line with your wishes. Having an up-to-date Will gives you the comfort of knowing that your wishes will be carried out.

Can I write my own Will?
It’s possible to write your own Will, but we don’t recommend it. You may overlook something that will either create confusion or affect the impact of inheritance tax. Your professional advisers will help to ensure that your Will addresses all the relevant issues.

How do I find a solicitor?
If you don’t have a solicitor, the names and addresses of local practices can be found through the Law Society. You can visit the Law Society’s website or phone their enquiry line on 020 7242 1222.

What are witnesses and who should I choose?
Your Will must be signed and witnessed. You must have two independent witnesses, and each of them must sign in the presence of you and the other witness. The name, address and occupation of witnesses should be recorded with their signature. Note that your witnesses should not be beneficiaries under your Will because any gifts to them will become invalid.

What are executors and how do I choose?
Your executors’ role is to ensure that your wishes are carried out after you pass away. You can appoint a maximum of four executors, and it is recommended that you appoint at least two. They must be over 18 years old.

You should choose someone who you feel is reliable – most people choose members of their family. It’s important to ask if they are prepared to serve as your executor before appointing them formally.

It is also possible to appoint your bank manager, solicitor or accountant as executor, as this will avoid problems if your other executors die before you, however they will usually charge a fee for their services.

What is inheritance tax and how does it affect my Will?
Inheritance tax is the tax on your estate after you pass away, before gifts are allocated to your beneficiaries. Inheritance tax is a complex topic and each individual's tax situation is different, so we always recommend consulting with your solicitor when making any changes to your Will, however gifts to registered charities are usually tax-exempt so gifts in Wills tend to be tax efficient.

You can also keep up to date on the latest information by visiting the HMRC website.

If I marry, will it affect my current Will?
Yes. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, marriage (or remarriage) will normally invalidate your current Will, so it’s important that you make a new Will as soon as you marry.

What if I want to cancel my current Will?
You can cancel or ‘revoke’ a Will, but this is not necessary if you are replacing it with a new one. A new Will normally includes wording that cancels all previous Wills with words such as: ‘I hereby revoke all previous Wills, codicils and testamentary provisions made by me at any time and declare this to be my last Will.’

What happens if I lose my Will?
If you lose your Will, it would still be considered legally valid until you executed a new one. Most people ask the solicitor who drew up their Will to keep the original and give them a copy.

Where should I keep my Will?
It is not necessary to register your Will with any authority but you should make sure it is kept in a safe place, together with any codicils. You should also let your executors know where it is so that they can find it swiftly in the event of your death. You may find it helpful to ask your solicitor to retain the original version of your Will and provide you with a copy.

Questions about including Sense in your Will

How do I leave a gift to Sense?
We always suggest visiting your solicitor when making or changing a Will to include a gift to Sense. You might find it useful to request our free legacy guide to Gifts in Wills (need link).

Alternatively, you may like to get in touch with our Legacy Manager, Leesa Mathiesen, by emailing legacy@sense.org.uk or calling 0207 014 9347. Leesa isn’t a solicitor so can’t offer legal advice, but she has a wealth of information and can help you understand the difference a gift in your Will can make.

Can I choose which Sense service or area my gift goes to?
Yes, you can. Along with the standard wording, which depends on the type of gift you are making, you will simply need to add: ‘I express the wish for the money to be used for the benefit of [insert name of service/centre].’

Alternatively, you can make your gift to Sense as a whole and we’ll use it where the need is greatest.

Should I make a new Will now if I've decided to leave an extra gift to Sense?
If your planned changes are small, such as making a straightforward bequest, it may not be necessary to change the whole document. It is wise to consult your solicitor, but you may be able to record any changes by adding a codicil. A codicil is a supplement to a Will that can make changes or amends and allow additions to part of that Will. Please note that any codicil must be signed and witnessed in the same way as a full Will to make it legal.

What if I don’t have much – is it really worth leaving a gift in my Will?
In a word, yes! Any gift, no matter how large or small, will help children who are deafblind to be understood, learn new skills and feel the love of their families in years to come. Even one per cent of your estate could have a real impact.

And remember that the personal nature of gifts in Wills makes this a very special way of giving your support – it means a lot to the team at Sense and the families we work with to know that people like you offer their support in this way.

What wording should I use when including a gift to Sense?
For a residuary gift (a remainder, or a percentage of the remainder of your estate, once other payments have been made) we suggest this wording:

‘I give _______% of my residuary estate to Sense, 101 Pentonville Road, London N1 9LG Registered charity number 289868, to be applied for its general purposes and I declare that the receipt of the finance director or appropriate officer shall be a complete discharge to my trustees.’

For a pecuniary gift (a fixed sum of money) we suggest this wording:

‘I give £_______ to Sense, 101 Pentonville Road, London N1 9LG Registered charity number 289868, to be applied for its general purposes and I declare that the receipt of the finance director or appropriate officer shall be a complete discharge to my trustees.’

No matter what you decide, children who are deafblind will be understood, learn new skills and feel the love of their families in years to come. And all this joy will be because of you.

Questions about the Free Wills service

What is the Sense Free Wills service?
Sense is working with three partners to offer a limited amount of simple free Wills or mirror Wills for couples. If your Will is more complicated there may be an additional charge and your solicitor will outline the costs for you if you choose to continue.

How can I enquire about using the Free Wills service?
Simply fill out the Free Wills service enquiry form and we’ll get back to you.

I already have a Will, can I use the Free Will service to change it?
Yes, you can have a simple Will updated using the service, but note that if there are complications there may be an additional charge. Enquire by filling in the Free Will service enquiry form.

What if I can’t find an answer to my question here?
No problem. You can contact Leesa Mathiesen, by emailing legacy@sense.org.uk or calling 0207 014 9347. Leesa will be happy to answer any questions, or if she can’t she’ll try to point you to someone who can.

You might also find it helpful to request our free guide to gifts in Wills.