Settling practical issues now can offer peace of mind and free up precious time to enjoy what really matters during last weeks and months. In this blog, we take a look at Will writing, funeral arrangements and organ donation.

“Getting my Will written during Martlets’ Will Writing Fortnight has been liberating as I've been meaning to do it and so this has taken care of it. Detailing my funeral wishes has been a pragmatic exercise and also an emotional one, but it has been reassuring to know my wishes are captured and so will be adhered to when the time comes.”

 - Participant, Will Writing Fortnight

Will writing – protect the lives of those you love

How to write your Will

We recommend you use the services of a solicitor to ensure that complications do not arise from a poorly drafted Will. Details of local solicitors are available from the Law Society at www.lawsociety.org.uk, or call 0207 320 5650.

How to know what to leave

Your solicitor will help you draw up a list of all your assets and liabilities. Your assets might include property, personal items and cash in banks; your liabilities might include mortgages and loans.

Keep your Will up-to-date

Remember to re-write your Will to reflect your changing wishes and circumstances such as births of children and grandchildren, marriage or divorce, and retirement.

Tell your family and keep your Will safe

It’s often a good idea to tell your family about what is included in your Will, so there are no surprises later, particularly if you’re intending to make gifts to charities such as Martlets. Keep your Will safe and tell loved ones where to find it. Ask your solicitor to store the original and keep a copy for yourself.

Our Legacies Manager Gary Moyle adds: “Making your wishes known gives you piece of mind and ensures the people and causes that matter to you are looked after in the way you want. Your friends and family will find comfort in knowing they are acting on your wishes, and having a Will may reduce the amount that needs to be paid in inheritance tax. It is also important to protect your partner’s rights; if you’re not married or in a civil partnership, the only way to make sure your partner is looked after is by including them in your Will.”

Funeral Planning

For your peace of mind and your loved ones’ it can be helpful to make financial provision for your funeral in advance, and to decide on burial or cremation. Clearly stating any details you would like included such as choice of reading, music and memories can also bring comfort to family and friends when the time comes.

“Often there are expectations and assumptions made around funerals,” .says Rene Bennett, senior social worker at Martlets, “and loved ones may feel pressured into giving you an elaborate funeral, which could result in financial difficulties and debt for them if these matters have not been discussed. So it is useful to gently broach these conversations where possible”

It can cost upwards of £2,000 for basic funeral provision, so planning in advance and talking to family and friends about your wishes is important.

“We get to know our patients and their loved ones and understand when and how to talk to them about these sensitive issues,” adds Rene.

For a list of local funeral directors and advice on how to plan a funeral, contact Martlets on 01273 273400

Corneal Donation – the gift of sight

The cornea is the tissue at the front of the eye and may become damaged by eye disease, injury or birth. The donation of one person’s corneas can help up to five people have their sight restored or improved. Each year in the UK there is a shortage of corneas and the waiting time to receive a corneal transplant can be up to two years. People of all ages benefit, from babies to the oldest recipient of the procedure who was 104.

While people with cancer may not be eligible to donate other organs, corneas can be donated by almost anyone – and it doesn’t matter if you have poor eyesight. The removal of corneas can be done at the hospice or funeral directors up to 24 hours after death and will not affect the funeral arrangements. It does not prevent relatives saying goodbye and the donor is treated with dignity and respect; care it taken to preserve the donor’s natural appearance.

If you are considering corneal donation, it is important to tell close family and friends about your decision, and to inform the healthcare professionals looking after you. For further information contact Dr Sarah Collins at Martlets on 01273 273400. You can also join the Organ Donation Register at www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/tissuedonation.