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If the past turbulent year has taught us anything, it’s just how quickly life can change and the dramatic impact this can have on us and the people we hold dear. That’s why as well as reminding people about the importance of having a will, we’re stressing how crucial it is to keep its content updated so that your loved ones will be protected after you’ve gone.

Launching our Make a Will Month campaign (1 – 31 May) in partnership with local solicitors, St Luke’s is highlighting the good sense of making sure your will keeps pace with the significant changes in your life, such as buying a home, getting married, starting a family, getting divorced or the death of your partner.

In support of the campaign, which raises vital funds to help our charity continue providing compassionate care for terminally ill people across Plymouth and surrounding areas, 10 community-spirited solicitors are waiving the fee they would normally charge for making and updating wills in return for a donation to St Luke’s. We give our specialist care and support free of charge to the many local families who rely on our service, but with less than a third of our funding coming from the NHS we are reliant on the generosity of supporters to continue our vital role.

Spearheading St Luke’s Make a Will Month campaign is our Head of Fundraising Penny Hannah, who knows first-hand how life can change overnight and how keeping your will current can help bring peace of mind.

Penny said: “I think it was learning at an early age that nothing in life is certain that made me feel I always want to be as prepared as I can be for whatever lies ahead. I was just 14 when my father died suddenly, and I had to grow up fast. Losing dad was incredibly hard, and my older siblings and I became a rock for my mum.

“I started work as soon as I could so that there was enough money coming in, taking a cleaning job after school at 14 and going into the world of retail, where I quickly worked my way up. By the age of 23 I was a store manager for a national retail chain and had my own home, but it was marriage and the birth of my first daughter, Amber, that was the catalyst for me deciding to get organised and make a will. I remember, very clearly, wanting to know she would be provided for if history repeated itself and she lost me young in life the way I lost my dad. When my then-husband and I made our wills, we included our choice of legal guardians for her, something we updated a few years later when our second daughter, Ruby, was born.

“Since then, life has taken many unexpected twists and turns, as it does for most people. Following the breakdown of my marriage and subsequent divorce, which led to a new chapter in my life, I knew it was important that I should rewrite my will. The next part of my story is a fairytale. I met my prince, Andrew, and when we married our two families became one bigger one of seven. We have shifted careers and moved home, and as a couple we have agreed to keep our wills current so that our loved ones are provided for, no matter what happens.

“Before the pandemic we enjoyed foreign holidays, and we hope to again when it’s safe to travel. Every time we go away, we feel we can truly relax because we know our affairs are in order should the worst happen. We’ve recently become grandparents for the first time, so life has shifted again in another wonderful way.

“While I understand that it may not be uppermost in people’s minds at the moment with everything else that is going on, I can’t stress enough how having an up-to-date will can help free you to enjoy living in the moment. It is one of the kindest things you can do for the people who matter most to you, making what can be a traumatic time for them that bit easier.”

Details of the solicitors taking part in St Luke’s Make a Will Month can be found here, or call 01752 492626 for more information. Appointments can be made for May or for later in the year, and there is the option to meet with a solicitor online or in person.

It’s straightforward to do and saves your loved one’s unnecessary distress at an already difficult time, yet many of us have not made a will. In fact, in the UK 77% of parents with children under five do not have one*.

With this in mind, St Luke’s is encouraging people to make the most of its Make a Will Week (11 – 15 May), when 11 local solicitors are giving their time free of charge to create or update wills in return for a donation to the charity.

Having a will can help bring you peace of mind, knowing that when you die your wishes will be carried out. Not only does it make it less stressful and time consuming for your friends and family to sort everything out, a will avoids everything you own being shared out in a standard way defined by law, which might not be what you want.

Making a will is especially important if you have children or other family who depend on you financially, or if you want to leave something to people outside your immediate family.

It is also wise to have a will if you own a business – whether in partnership or as a sole trader – stating how you wish the business to be administered in the event of your death. Failure to do this will result in a delayed or protracted process that can result in your family receiving less money than if you had a will in place before your death, or not being able to access equity in the business at a time when they might need it most.

The companies taking part in Make a Will Week include McClure Solicitors, who kindly provide this service all year round in aid of St Luke’s. Other participating firms include: Beers LLP Plymouth; Bright Solicitors; Evans Harvey; Fursdon Knapper; GA Solicitors; Gard & Co; Kitsons; Start Point Law; The Will Centre; Wolferstans, and Woolcombe Yonge.

Speaking about the event, St Luke’s Business Fundraising Manager Nicola Keen said: “Whilst were stuck inside, doing our bit to help during this pandemic, it’s a perfect opportunity to catch up on those jobs that we just keep putting off. Our Make a Will Week is a great time to make or update your will, especially if your marital status has changed, you have moved to a new house or recently added to your family. The best part is all of this can be done online, over the phone or via video call!

“People often forget that it is not always about sorting out the financial aspects. A will ensures your final wishes are clear. Your possessions and property are going to the right place, and the family and children you leave behind will be looked after.”

In addition to the donations it receives through its Make a Will Week, St Luke’s also receives support from those in the community who leave a legacy to the much-loved charity in their will. This generous gesture helps ensure that future generations of local families affected by terminal illness will be helped by St Luke’s expert compassionate care when they need it most.

To make an appointment to create or update your will between 11 and 15 May, simply contact one of the solicitors taking part to make an appointment, quoting ‘St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth Make a Will Week’.

More information can be found here.

*Source: Russell & Russell Solicitors