SOLICITORS are offering to write basic wills without charge until the end next month - and raise money for charity.

Instead of charging their normal fee for a basic will, many solicitors from the area have agreed to waive their charge thanks to Will Aid, a fundraising campaign involving nine of the UK's leading charities.

The solicitors will ask instead for a donation to raise funds for the nine Will Aid charities, including the NSPCC, the British Red Cross, Christian Aid, Help the Aged, Save the Children UK, and Sight Savers International.

A Will Aid spokeswoman said: "We know from Will Aid's recent survey on wills that only 31 per cent of people in the North-East have a will.

"This means that 69 per cent are leaving their loved ones vulnerable. If you don't have a proper will, there can, in some cases, be disastrous consequences for your family or close partner."

She said married people tended to assume their spouse would inherit all their assets if they died without a will.

"This is not necessarily true since the surviving spouse may only inherit up to £125,000 in England and Wales and may even have to sell the family home to pay off other relatives," she said.

"Unmarried couples are in an even worse position since a surviving partner has no automatic rights over the estate of the deceased."

Will Aid participating solicitors in east Cleveland are Mr Michael Boyes, Goodswens, 118 High Street, Redcar, (01642) 482424; Mrs P McManus, Miles Hutchinson and Lithgow, 27 Milton Street, Saltburn, (01287) 623049 and Mr James Smith, James A Smith, 147-149 High Street, Skelton, (01287) 651051.

For more information go to or call (0800) 6060 239.

Others firms where some solicitors are taking part include:

Appleby Hope & Matthews, Normanby, (01642) 440444; Goodswens, Redcar, (01642) 482424; James & Baker, Thornaby, (01642) 672770; James A Smith, Skelton, tel: (01287) 651051; Kitching Kneale & Co, Great Ayton, (01642) 723713; Lauristons, Middlesbrough, (01642) 247868; Miles Hutchinson & Lithgow, Saltburn, (01287) 623049; Miles Hutchinson & Lithgow, Middlesbrough, (01642) 242698; Smith & Graham, Hartlepool, (01429) 271651; Tilly Bailey & Irvine, Stockton, (01642) 673797 or Hartlepool (01429) 264101.