This is a quiet plea to all grown-ups out there to help themselves, their relatives and loved ones, and the charities that they might wish to support. Make a Will. Take advice, make it simple, but Make A Will. If you have a will – then make sure it is efficient. If you want to give loads of money to the Inland Revenue rather than family and good causes – just write a cheque in your lifetime, rather than leaving it in tax. I am just doing some numbers for an aged relative which shows the government will take loads of Inheritance tax when they die and the three important charities they wants to support will get around 1/3rd of what they might have done had they taken advice.
This may be an odd blog for a theatre creative to write but it is so important. Only 1/3rd of people in Britain have a will – that’s nearly 30million people here who don’t have a will. The government must be rubbing its collective hands in glee. No will, or a bad will, puts unnecessary strain on those left to pick up the pieces, reduced the amount for your offspring and loved ones, and it robs charities of money they really need to support so many causes & individuals left to rot by government cuts.
So if you have a mortgage, or a partner, or some money in the bank, or children or anything to give away. Make A Will. There are all sorts of fun things you can do in thinking about the will whilst you are alive. You can knowingly help family and friends. You can join one of the are-they-dead-yet clubs which arts and education charities are setting up. I’m a member of the 1553 Society which is for those people who went to Christ’s Hospital who are pledging a bit of money (or maybe a lot of money) to this amazing educational establishment when they die. The nice thing is we get invited to a show or concert each year, and told how wonderful we are. You don’t have to wait till you die to get thanked for making a bequest. And presumably when one of our number is not there for the next event, and the school is a richer place for it, we will all raise our glasses to him or her and cheer. The Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds has an 1819 Society, and other arts bodies all over the UK have similar projects. Check them out, or start one.
I’m not looking forward to telling my relative about the will and the charity reductions, but at least they had a will and so at least their wishes to support three vital charities will be honoured.
Last year my mother died with a will she’d written in 1969. Had she reviewed it 7 or 8 or more years before she died we could have helped even more people, rather than again handing money over to the Inland Revenue. It was a joy to be able to help her old school who are setting up a small Poetry Prize in her honour, her local operatic society, the youth theatre nearby, the Alzheimer’s Society that she never knew she would be helping, the nursing home she never really knew she had entered, and the RNLI which carried out her final wish. Nevertheless the Inland Revenue got around 8 times more than each of these deserving causes.
So please Make a Will and review your situation – you never know when your time will be up. We can all get our situation in order, and help good causes along the way.