10th September 2021 // Claire Holmyard
For Myeloma UK's Will Week, our Individual and Planned Giving Manager, Claire Holmyard, has written a blog about her personal journey to writing a Will.
Making a Will is one of those things that you know deep down is important, but when faced with a host of other more pressing life admin, such as switching your energy provider, renewing your car insurance or booking an eye test, it never seems to be at the top of the to do list.
For me, there were a number of hurdles to overcome before I could make a Will, but primarily, not really knowing who to turn to or where to start was what held me back.
However, my life situation felt a bit precarious and because this kept playing on my mind it spurred me on to try to get something sorted. Having recently married, having a new step-son and living in a home I didn’t own, for my own peace of mind, it was important to make sure that if anything happened to either my husband or I, the remaining parties would be provided for in the way we would want, and our assets correctly distributed.
Our first attempt at making Wills was not a resounding success, however.
Buoyed up by the thought of how proactive we were being, we approached a local solicitor’s firm and casually arranged an appointment. It seemed quite straight-forward.
In advance, we had both considered who we would want to leave our inheritance to so felt we just needed a bit of guidance as to how this could be expressed in legal terms. The meeting was reassuringly formal – the solicitor ushered us in to the meeting room and we sat around the table and talked through our personal details. He took notes of names of family members to feature in our Wills and amounts involved and then it was all over in a flash, and we left. There wasn’t a lot of questioning or guidance offered on how to accommodate our blended family and if I’m honest we left feeling a bit uncertain about whether they were the right firm to deal with our affairs.
A week or so later we each received emails from the solicitor with follow up queries which further reduced our confidence in him. The queries seemed to indicate the solicitor hadn’t taken in what we discussed with him in person which was not reassuring. We weren’t convinced he could create Wills for us to suit our needs. So, with heavy hearts we abandoned this avenue, feeling discouraged, and went back to procrastinating.
A few months on, the big cloud of anxiety about our future affairs loomed large again and its unwelcome presence prompted us to try again to make our Wills.
Fortunately, my husband’s work had a new staff Will writing scheme partnership with a law firm offering free Wills for employees and their spouses, so we jumped at the chance of this. When we made contact with the solicitors firm, they sent us a questionnaire to complete in advance of our appointment which was incredibly helpful.
The questionnaire acted as a step-by-step guide to ensure we had thought of all the information required to draft a robust Will. It asked about our beneficiaries, whether we wanted to leave any gifts to charity in our Wills and even captured details such as what sort of funeral we would like and whether we wished to be buried or cremated. Far from finding this a depressing experience I actually quite enjoyed thinking through what my final wishes were. Once the questionnaire had been sent on to the solicitors they drafted a Will for each of us and we arranged an appointment for us to meet so they could go through it with us in person to check they had captured everything correctly.
I’m happy to say this time around we had a much more positive experience. In fact, the appointment was like night and day compared to the first firm.
The acting solicitor talked us through the Wills she had drafted, pointing out the implications of different clauses and clarifying that what she had drafted was in keeping with our intentions. She was incredibly knowledgeable and skilled, offering advice and guidance as we went through. She asked us whether we had considered Power of Attorney, which we hadn’t. After her explanation, we realised that it was important for us to put this in place so that if either one of us was incapacitated due to an illness or injury the other would be able to manage their finances or take medical decisions the other party may not be able to make for themselves.
The Power of Attorney services were not included within the Free Will writing offer, so we had to pay for this, but we felt better knowing we had made provision for this.
So, after years of procrastinating, in just a few weeks of making contact with our second firm, our Will was finalised, everything was done and dusted. After putting it off for so long, we had finally dealt with the ominous dark shadow that had been hanging over us and everything was in order. It felt good, and I would even go as far as to say I felt elated to know that my loved ones and my favourite charities would benefit according to my wishes, should anything happen to me.
That was several years ago now and our circumstances have changed so we will need to amend our Wills to make sure they are still relevant. However, unlike the first time around I don’t feel daunted by the process now that I know where to turn for help.
If you are thinking of getting a Will made or reviewed, I would recommend going to a Will writing specialist or legal expert who specialises in Estate work. It makes all the difference to know that the person arranging your affairs fully understands what your wishes are and can advise on the best way of expressing them.
Here are my recommendations for what to consider in advance of making your Will:
Gifts in Wills are significantly important to Myeloma UK. They help us plan for the future and invest in ground-breaking, life-changing projects and research which support our myeloma community, bringing hope to patients and families. Learn about leaving a gift in your Will.