May marks the start of Highland Hospice's Make a Will month; an opportunity to have a simple will drafted by a local lawyer, for the cost of a donation to the Hospice.

I'm delighted that Brodies is partnering with the Hospice this year, to help draft wills. Like many across the Highlands and Islands, I've seen the brilliant work the charity does for the community and the invaluable services it provides, not just to people with terminal illnesses but their families and friends too.

A will is an important document for everyone to have, regardless of their circumstances, yet it's one of those things that often gets 'put off'.

It is, in essence, a legal document, but it's also a way of acknowledging what's around the corner in life and making provisions for when that time comes, not just for the benefit of the individual making the will, but for their loved ones too.

Death is one of the few certainties in life, but it still has a taboo around it; people don't like to talk about it, let alone create a document that addresses what happens when that time comes.

So what makes someone decide to make a will? Different people respond to different triggers. A big 'life event', like getting married, having a child, or buying a first property. A milestone birthday. A change in circumstances that involves coming into possession of additional wealth or assets. Experiencing the death of a loved one, or going through personal health issues.

Another deciding factor can be the realisation that there are consequences to not having a will. When someone dies without one, it's known as dying 'intestate', and it falls by default to the law to decide what happens to your estate. The default doesn't take into account your own unique situation or that of family or loved ones. Unfortunately, I've seen this happen on too many occasions, often resulting in additional legal costs, stress and arguments for those who are left behind.

Whatever the motivating factors are for making a will, the benefits of doing so are always the same:

  • You decide who to leave your estate to, and how. That might mean everything goes to one individual (or organisation), it's allocated equally to a number of parties, or even certain parts (like a piece of jewellery, for instance) go to certain individuals.
  • Peace of mind - you can ensure loved ones are provided for financially, after you're gone
  • You reduce the risk of disputes arising after you're gone. A will is a statement outlining how you want to pass on assets.
  • Less stress for your loved ones. A will gives them less to worry about; you've already taken care of what happens to your estate.
  • You choose how your end of life is marked – although not compulsory, people sometimes choose to outline funeral and burial preferences in their will.

And let's not forget the final additional benefit, in the case of Make a Will month. By making your will, you're not just doing something positive for yourself and your loved ones, you're supporting Highland Hospice, to ensure it can continue its valuable work in the community.

Highland Hospice is running its Make a Will month throughout May. Contact Lisa Law for more details.