Robert Peston says he is immensely grateful to his late wife for deciding they should both write wills, a good decade before her death.
The journalist, Political Editor of ITV News and host of the weekly political discussion show Peston On Sunday, spoke following the announcement that he is set to become patron of Will Aid.
The charity will-writing scheme is designed to reinforce the need for everyone to have a professionally drawn-up will, whilst at the same time raising vital funds for nine fantastic causes.
Robert says he was delighted to be championing the annual campaign which is in its 30th year.
He says: “When my late wife Siân Busby and I wrote our wills in our early 40s, we assumed this was boring insurance for an event that would never happen. Only 10 years later, Siân died after a horrible illness, and it fell to me to sort out her affairs.
“Devastated by grief, not really thinking straight, I was so grateful that she had written down what she wanted to do with her money and possessions, and had given clear instructions about what should be done with her ashes.
“Even as a spouse who would have inherited everything under the law if she hadn’t got a will, it was so much easier and less stressful to do what she had chosen, rather than deploying my own judgement – especially since I was in shock from her death.”
Siân and Robert were together for 18 years, and brought up their two boys together. She finished her final novel, A Commonplace Killing, just weeks before her death on 4 September 2012, five years after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, despite never having smoked a cigarette in her life.
Robert, whose father died a few years after his wife, says having a will meant relatives did not have to deal with any unnecessary decisions and complications at a time of grief.
“I had seen at first hand a close family member trying to sort out the affairs of a father who had died intestate and was horrified by how messy and time-consuming that had been,” he says.
“Although the act of writing a will can be upsetting, the pain and disruption for your family if you have not written one is likely to be far worse.”
Will Aid Month, which takes place across the country, runs from 01-30 November.
Solicitors who take part provide the will-writing service for local people and waive their usual fee, instead you are invited to make a voluntary donation in to Will Aid which is then split between nine of the UK’s best-loved charities.
Our suggested voluntary donation for a basic Will Aid will is £95 for a single will and £150 for a pair of mirror wills.
In 2017, Will Aid raised more than £1 million for the vital work of its charity partners – ActionAid, Age UK, British Red Cross, Christian Aid, NSPCC, Save the Children, Sightsavers, SCIAF (Scotland) and Trocaire (Northern Ireland).
For more information visit www.willaid.org.uk