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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 November, 2004, 14:07 GMT
Will Aid 2004 underway
By Paul Lewis
BBC Radio 4 's Money Box

Scroll of paper, pad and pen
About 50% of us do not have an up-to-date will
Nearly 2,000 solicitors throughout the UK are offering to waive their fee to draw up a will in November, in return for a donation to charity.

The Will Aid scheme runs every two years and has raised donations of 4m since it began in 1988. In addition, far more than that has been pledged to charities in legacies.

The amount an individual donates is up to them, but Will Aid has suggested 65 for a will, 95 for 'matching wills' for a couple, and 35 to alter an existing will with a codicil.

A wife or husband does not automatically get the other person's estate if there is no will
Graeme Page, Will Aid
On average those donations are about the same as a solicitor would normally charge, but more or less than the recommended amounts can also be given.

Taxpayers can then sign a Gift Aid form and the chancellor will boost the charitable donation by 2.82 for every 10 they give, which is more than 18 on top of the 65 gift.

Serious mistake

Roughly one in two people have not made a will. And among younger age groups it is even more. But Will Aid founder Graeme Page, a solicitor in Oban, told BBC Radio 4's Money Box that failing to do so is a serious mistake:

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"A wife or husband does not automatically get the other person's estate if there is no will. Blood relations can nearly always come in.

"And with today's trend of living together without marrying, a partner who is not married has absolutely no claim at all when their partner dies. And people just do not realise it."

Graeme confirmed that even if an unmarried couple have lived together for years, had children, and supported each other, but one dies without a will, then the other partner has no right to any of their property.

They could end up homeless as well as bereaved.

Dying intestate

When someone dies without a will - called 'intestate' - strict legal rules decide who gets their property, including their house.

These rules are complex and slightly different in Scotland from the rest of the UK, but broadly speaking your property passes to people in the order: wife or husband, children, grandchildren, parents, brothers and sisters, and then more distant relatives.

If no relative is found the whole estate passes to the Crown.

It is an opportunity to get your finances in order and also to help charities
Claire Bickerdike, Save the Children
All those problems can be sorted out by simply making a will.

And Claire Bickerdike of Save the Children explained how valuable doing it through Will Aid could be to charities:

"Save the Children got 42,000 in direct donations and 870,000 in legacy pledges in 2002.

"That is why Will Aid is great. It is an opportunity to get your finances in order and also to help charities."

You can find a local solicitor who is taking part in Will Aid by calling 0870 606 0239 or from the Will Aid website.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 6 November, 2004 at 1204 BST.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 7 November, at 2102 GMT.

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