Latest figures show that charitable donations left in Wills increased by more than 60% last year. 
 
More than half of people in the UK don’t have a Will and only three out of 10 people say they have an up-to-date Will. During the pandemic 7% of people made or updated their Will

Why leave gifts to charity? 

Many people are leaving tax-free gifts to charities in their Wills to reduce the amount of inheritance tax (IHT) to be paid on their estate when they die. 
 
Gifts to charitable causes are tax-free, and if you donate 10% of your estate to charity, the amount of inheritance tax due will be reduced from 40% to 36%, above the £325,000 tax-free threshold. 
The Law Society has urged people to include ‘digital assets’ such as emails, photos, social media accounts, websites and domain names, or cryptocurrencies in their Wills
 
The Law Society commissioned a survey which found that more than nine out of ten people who have a Will have not included their digital assets. 
 
Their research showed that three quarters of the 1,000 people questioned didn’t know what happened to their online presence after they die. 
When someone dies, a personal representative (PR) is appointed to manage their estate (money, property, and possessions). If the PR is named in their Will, they are known as the executor. Part of a PR’s role is to close any bank accounts, but sometimes this isn’t straightforward and there can be several challenges. 
Claudia Lawrence, a chef at York University, went missing in 2009. In these circumstances the rule is that someone will be presumed dead when they have been missing for seven or more years. 
 
Claudia’s father, Peter, Kevin Hollinrake MP, and the charity Missing People, campaigned for this rule to be changed. They argued that the family and friends of a missing person should be able to deal with their property and financial affairs before seven years have passed. 
booklet with the title 'wish you were here' re Claudia's law
If someone asks you to be an executor for their Will you will be responsible for making sure their estate is properly wound up and that their wishes are carried out. 
 
There are legal responsibilities associated with being an executor, including: 
registering the death 
arranging the funeral 
valuing the estate 
paying any inheritance tax 
applying for probate 
resolving finances 
distributing the estate 
keeping estate accounts. 
 
All the costs of administering the estate and receipts should be recorded. 
Having mental capacity is one of the conditions that you must meet for your Will to be valid. This means you must be able to understand and retain information for long enough to weigh it up and make a decision. You must also be able to communicate the decision you have made. 
A valid Will makes it much easier for your executors to administer your estate when you die. Your friends and family will receive their inheritance as you intended, and people will be reassured that they understand your wishes. 
 
There are almost six million businesses in the UK, most of them ranging from sole traders to businesses with around 10 employees, but many people don’t put the same measures in place for their business
Man working on a lathe in a workshop
Books and gavel on a white background
We’re told that waiting times for grants of probate have now been reduced to around five weeks. 
 
HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) says that the number of grants issued each week is now higher than the number of applications being received. 
 
If you apply for probate online, an option that was introduced in November last year, you should only have to wait around four weeks. If there aren’t any errors or omissions in the application, it could even be handled in a week. 
 
If you submit the paper forms instead, you should receive your grant within eight weeks. 
 
However, this is just the beginning of the process of administering an estate on behalf of a friend or family member. 
A warm and friendly care home is often the best place for a vulnerable elderly person to live. 
 
If your parent has been unwell or has been diagnosed with dementia, for example, they might not be able to live safely at home. They might be struggling with day-to-day activities like washing and preparing food. Round-the-clock support from trained professionals in a safe environment could help them to live their lives more fully and reduce their anxiety. 
 
However, during the coronavirus pandemic some relatives have been concerned that they are unable to visit their loved ones and have been worried about the health risks they face. They have been shocked to discover that they can’t take them out of the care home to live with their family. 
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