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    11 June 2021

    How do I leave a legacy in my Will?

    Many families leave legacies to charity in their Wills and there are many reasons for this. Perhaps a charity that has supported a loved one, a community charity close to their hearts or couples that have no immediate family they wish to leave their estates to.

    Leaving a legacy, or gift, in your Will doesn’t need to be large, even small gifts can make a big difference to charities. Many Charities have experienced a decline in charitable donations due to the Covid Pandemic, with several living on a ‘cliff edge’ having had to cancel events and the result in business tightening their donation budgets.

    A solicitor can help you to include a gift to charity in your Will and explain the associated benefits and potential pitfalls of doing so. Steeles Law Private Client team give their top tips when considering leaving a legacy in your Will.

    Consider what you wish to leave to charity in your Will

    The types of gifts that can be left to charity in your Will are a fixed cash sum, a specific item, a share of your residuary estate or your whole residuary estate (the value of your estate after any gifts, costs and tax are deducted).

    Be clear on your wishes

    You may direct how you would like a charity to use your gift, but you should check whether the charity can uphold your wishes. In the worst-case scenario, if a charity could not uphold the request, they may have to decline the gift.

    To ensure that your gift goes to the right charity, be clear with the registered charity name and registered number. If you simply say a cancer charity it may lead to confusion over the correct charity, should it be Cancer Research or Macmillan Cancer Support for example? Many charities also have regional branches, would you want your gift to support the local community, for example, Age UK, Age UK Norwich, or Age UK Norfolk?

    Consider your dependents

    Under the Inheritance Act, your Will must provide reasonably for any financial dependents you may have. To avoid your Will being challenged we would suggest that you discuss your wishes with your family so that they are aware of why you have left the gift and leave a letter of wishes with your Will explaining why you have made the gift to the specified charity.

    Avoid DIY Wills, as these are more likely to be challenged by a family member who may feel you were pressured into making the charitable gift.

    Use a Solicitor

    A Solicitor can advise and discuss leaving a charitable legacy in more detail and how best to include a gift to charity in your Will. This may be by creating a new Will or drafting a Codicil, a document that is used to make changes to an existing Will.

    Solicitors will also be able to advise you on tax relief, reducing the rate of inheritance tax payable on your estate. However, there are pitfalls to watch out for, as gifts made directly to charities not registered in the UK do not qualify for the same tax reliefs.

    If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in our article further, our specialist Private Client Team can guide you through the Wills, Trusts and Probate process. Please contact our dedicated Wills, Trusts and Probate team by calling 01603 598000 or by emailing probate@steeleslaw.co.uk.

    *The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.


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