Leaving a gift to charity in your will
Leaving a gift to charity in your will
Time spent with family and friends over the festive period can make you realise how precious life is and the importance of ensuring that those you love and care about are provided for when you die. Among those you wish to benefit from your will may be a charitable organisation, but occasionally leaving gifts to charity can be controversial, particularly if substantial sums are involved that members of your family might expect to receive. Deborah Adams, head of private client department with Parnalls in Launceston offers her top five tips on this delicate subject.
- Decide what you want to leave
Making a gift to charity, known as leaving a charitable legacy, can be done in one of three ways:
- by leaving a specific sum of money (a pecuniary legacy);
- by leaving specific items, such as property, furniture or jewellery (a specific legacy); or
- by leaving some or all of what is left after the payment of funeral expenses, any debts you owed at the time of your death and any other specific gifts you wish to make (a residuary legacy).
You will need to decide what sort of legacy you would like to leave, the amount you would like to give and how you want to leave it.
Depending on the value of your estate, there may also be tax considerations that need to be considered. For example, if you will leave an estate worth more than the level at which inheritance tax becomes payable, making a gift to charity could be a useful way of reducing or even eliminating your liability to pay this tax.
As a general rule, gifts to charities are exempt from inheritance tax and if you leave more than ten per cent of your estate to charity, the rate at which inheritance tax must be paid on the remainder of your estate will be reduced.
- Avoid DIY wills
Although DIY wills are readily available, using one could be problematic if you want to make a gift to charity. With a DIY will the onus is on you to make sure that all the legal requirements for making a will are complied with, including the need for your signature on the will to be witnessed, ideally by someone with no connection to the charity you wish to benefit. DIY wills are more susceptible to challenge by family members who may be concerned about the possibility that you were pressurised into making a charitable gift, particularly if you were not known to be an avid supporter of the charity in question during your lifetime.
- Take care with ‘paid for wills’
Many charities organise ‘free wills weeks’ with solicitors, which are a great way of getting a professional will prepared. However, care needs to be taken if a charity offers to pay for you to prepare your own will. While there is nothing wrong in them doing this, they should follow the advice of the Charity Commission by still suggesting that you appoint an independent solicitor to prepare the will on your behalf and to explain to you how any gift you choose to leave to charity will impact on the inheritance you can leave to your family and other loved ones.
- Be clear on your chosen charity and purpose
To ensure your gift goes to the correct charity, it is important that your will includes details of your chosen charity’s registered name and address and, if they are a company, their charity registration number. Confusion, and therefore the potential for argument, can arise where this is not done and only a general description is given. For example, if you say you would like to leave £10,000 for cancer research, does this mean that the money should go to Cancer Research UK, the Institute of Cancer Research, Macmillan Cancer Support or some other charitable cancer organisation?
You also need to confirm whether you are happy for your chosen charity to use the legacy you leave them for their general charitable purposes or if you want it to be used for a specific purpose, such as training, research or respite care.
- Speak to a solicitor, particularly if you want to amend an existing will to leave a charitable legacy
An existing will which does not provide for a charitable legacy can be dealt with in one of two ways: it can either be cancelled and a new will prepared in its place, or it can have what is known as a ‘codicil’ attached to it which has the effect of varying the will to accommodate the charitable gift you now wish to make. Codicils are a legal document and therefore, like a will, they need to comply with certain legal requirements.
- Consider your family and dependents
You can do what you want under your Will and leave everything to charity or substantial gifts to charity but if no provision is made for example to your spouse/children the Will could be challenged so that is why it is important to speak to a solicitor. We will be able to advise you on the best approach to take and to answer any other questions you may have.
For help in leaving a charitable legacy, or for any other wills, probate or estate administration issues, please contact Deborah Adams on 01566772375 or email email@example.com
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Commercial Property Legal FAQs
Rent Charge Suspensions: Protecting Your Interests
Been Asked to Sign an Employment Settlement Agreement? Seek Advice Urgently...
Services Update: Continuity of Legal Service Provision
Advising You in Uncertain Times
Could carelessness on social media land you in court?
Is an electronic signature on a commercial property document acceptable?
What happens when there is no health & care LPA in place
Social Media Training for Businesses
Information to gather for your probate solicitor
Gazundering, what it is and how to avoid it
Relief from forfeiture – what happens if the tenant forgets to pay the rent?
Not so safe at work - compensation for an accident at work
New organ donation law: giving you control
Running a business from home
Have nude photos of you or your teenager been posted online?
Landowners’ rights and the Electronic Communications Code
Building in your back garden
Christmas is a time for giving (and inheritance planning)
Buying the freehold of your leasehold house
Redeveloping an empty pub for commercial use
Why it takes time to obtain the Grant of Probate
Social Media: The unconscious privacy threat
Is your reputation being threatened?
Making a will after your spouse or partner has died
Interns celebrate completion of internship at solicitors
Selling your home in a flat market, some top tips
Claiming compensation for a serious road traffic accident
New Media and Communications Court list reflects surge in internet defamation claims by Laura Baglow
Has your personal information been shared without your permission?
Planning your escape to the country, what you need to consider – part 2
Government consultation on new national model for shared ownership
Choosing a partnership structure
Planning for what happens when you die by Deborah Adams
Changes to legislation could offer protection for tenants in the private rental sector
Move to the country - Part One
The risks of DIY probate
Will your septic tank still be legal in January?
The death knell for ‘kiss and tell’?
Making a will when you retire
Selling your property at auction
Not looking so good - your guide to compensation for botched non-surgical cosmetic procedures
New threshold of seriousness in defamation proceedings
Legal considerations when building a granny annex
Choosing the right person for your power of attorney
Formal Interviews - Do you need legal representation?
Privacy rights and aerial images
Trustees’ duty to give information to beneficiaries
Five problems with a leasehold property
Taking your first commercial lease
Is your organisation protected from employee social media legal risk?
Have you been targeted by negative social media posts?
Farmers be alert when being inspected
Help for House Sellers?
Don’t let your digital assets end up in a digital grave
Valuing an estate for probate
Development proposals and your local authority search
What can you do if your child is injured in a serious accident
NetRights welcomes new protection for social media users
SHOULD I GET A LAWYER FOR A SPEEDING OFFENCE?
Supreme Court recognises that social media is a “casual medium” in libel battle
Choosing the best conveyancer who is right for you
Making a will after a second or subsequent marriage
Option or promotion agreement – which is best for landowners?
Anonymous pub and restaurant online reviews leave a bad taste
Have you had an accident involving a horse?
Help to Buy – beware of some cracks in the structure
Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney
Changes to Energy Performance Certificate for Landlords
Had a cycling accident? Your route to obtaining compensation
New year, new home: tips to sell your home in the New Year
Tax Planning for your inheritance
Hearing loss: when your employer may be liable
Buying a home for your retirement, five things you need to consider
Farmers plan to diversify after Brexit
Ministers press ahead with probate fee shake-up - reports BBC News
Botched dental treatment? You may be entitled to compensation
Why a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney is a good idea
Will the new charge on building developments in Cornwall affect you?
Energy Performance Certificates – Do They Matter?
HMRC Challenging Stamp Duty Land Tax Payments
Ben Mitchell qualifies as a solicitor
The potential implications of Brexit on employment law
Appointing a guardian for your children
Houses in multiple occupation – new rules from October 2018
New Agriculture Bill published
Will Brexit affect my pension?
Dreaming of a holiday home? Sort out the legals before putting your feet up
Lasting Power of Attorney by Deborah Adams
Settled status after Brexit by Alexis Hager
How to choose an executor to administer your estate when you die
How overage agreements can boost profits from your land
Top tips for first-time buyers
How Could Brexit Affect My Farm?
Wills & Succession in Spain by Deborah Adams
Brexit – an international and local view by Alexis Hager, Litigation
Capital gains tax - important facts for non-residents of the UK
Buying a home: the importance of making sure the seller is entitled to sell
Changing a will after someone has died: it is possible and it could save you money
Your responsibilities when you have people working in your home
Sad passing of Battle of Britain pilot who served with Parnall family member
Considerations when buying a heritage property
Disciplinary proceedings at work: guide for employers
Employers should have a disciplinary process in place, but just following this may not be enough to avoid falling foul of the law and exposing yourself to the risk of an employment tribunal claim.