If you are looking to give a gift to charity in a Will, Remember a Charity Week, between 5-11 September, is a great place to start. Blake Morgan is proud to support the week, with the aim to encourage more people to make a Will, and consider leaving a charity gift in it.
Over half the UK adult population have not made a Will, several polls suggest. Analysts have predicted that around £4.2 billion of charitable donations a year come from gifts in Wills – that is over one third of estimated charitable donations in the UK in 2020.
What and why?
Remember A Charity Week exists to remind us of the importance of leaving a charitable gift in your Will.
A huge part of UK charities’ income is from legacies in Wills. So, for those charities, it is hugely important for their longevity that this generosity and support continues. According to Remember a Charity, legacies in Wills fund 6 in 10 RNLI lifeboats, as well as accounting for 40% of Macmillan Cancer Support’s income. Further, Remember A Charity estimates that although 40% of UK people would like to leave a charitable legacy, only 6.3% currently does.
A Will creates certainty of what happens to your estate (broadly, everything you own) when you die. Anyone can leave a gift to charity in their Will, which can be an effective way of benefiting a cause close to your heart. It might save your estate tax, too.
Some common questions
I already have a Will leaving charitable gifts, but want to add or change a charity. Can I easily do that?
Yes – but take care. You cannot add to your Will simply by writing on it, nor can you remove something simply by scribbling it out. Defacing a Will carries a host of its own problems that are for a future blog!
Either you make a new Will, preferably with professional advice and supervision; or, you make a codicil (document adding to, or changing the terms of the Will it sits alongside). Any new Will and/or codicil must be properly signed and witnessed for it to legally stand. Generally, if you want to make more than the odd minor change, a new Will is probably the way to go. You do not want to accidentally invalidate a gift!
A charity named in my existing Will has changed name – is the gift still effective?
If a charity has changed its name, merged with another charity, or ceased to exist completely, the Will might save this by making alternative provision, or allowing your executors (people you nominate in your Will to deal with your estate when you die) to choose a similar charity in substitute, depending on how it was drafted. Professionally drafted Wills usually contain administrative clauses to address these issues – however it remains advisable to discuss with a professional, rather than assuming.
I want to provide for my loved ones as well as charities, but am worried they will challenge my Will when I die.
You are perfectly free to leave your estate to a mixture of charities and family, in whatever amounts you deem fit.
Ideally, clear records will be left (for instance, solicitors’ files) that you made your Will following all of the legal formalities, with full mental capacity and informed decision, and free of any undue influence. If you are concerned that there might be controversy, or even a legal claim from a family member saying they weren’t reasonably provided for, seek professional advice from one of our specialists.
Does it matter how much or what I give to charity?
Your Will can gift to charity as much or as little as you want, and this will depend on your estate and circumstances. As for how this is done, it’s up to you whether you state a fixed sum, or give a percentage share of your overall estate. Some even create more complicated trusts for charities in their Will – BUT whatever you decide, it is often beneficial to talk through with a professional so that you can plan how things will work when your executors deal with your estate.
Besides being altruistic, are there other benefits to charitable gifting in my Will?
Gifts to charity are completely free of inheritance tax, or “IHT” (basically, tax on assets transferred from one person to another).
If your estate is big enough (among other things), IHT might be due on it at a rate of 40%. You might have heard of that rate reducing to 36%, if at least 10% of your net estate is left to charity. One of our previous blogs covers that in more detail. No surprise, the workings of this can be complex, and sitting down with a professional to talk through in more detail (and ensure you are making an overall saving to your estate) is invaluable.
If you are unsure
Contact one of our expert Will solicitors if you would like to discuss any of these issues further – whether you have a Will already and want to review/update it in line with the current law, or need to make your first Will.
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