How to leave a gift to charity in your will
Legacies are a really important source of income for charities in the UK. Your decision to leave a gift in your Will could make a great difference to the future of your favourite charity.
Legacies also have financial benefits for your friends and family, as gifts to charity are exempt of tax and may also help to bring the total value of your estate below the taxable threshold.
Despite the all round benefits of charitable legacies, only a few people in a hundred will get around to remembering a charity in their Will. The topic of Wills can often be quite daunting, so to make the whole process of making a Will or pledging a gift to charity easier, we’ve created a Legacies section on the Charity Choice website with all the information, tools and contacts you’ll need.
This article will show you what you need to think about and how to make your decision clear in your Will.
Choosing a charity
If you already know which charity you would like to leave a gift to, simply go to the Charity Choice Gifts in Wills page and search by name or Registered Charity Number. If you’re unsure about who you would like to benefit from your gift, you can browse our comprehensive charity directory by category to find some inspiration.
Some charities have a Legacies section on their charity micro-site where you’ll find all of the necessary information, bespoke forms and contact details you need to leave a legacy to them. You can reach this page by searching for your charity and clicking on the Legacies tab below the logo.
If your favourite charity does not have a Legacies page, you can still leave a gift to them in your Will. On the Charity Choice Gifts in Wills homepage we’ve provided downloadable legacy forms and a solicitors directory to make the process that much easier.
What kind of gift?
There are various different ways to help a charity in your Will. These are the most common types of legacy:
- A pecuniary legacy: a gift of a specific sum of money.
- A specific legacy: a gift of a particular named item.
- A residuary legacy: a fraction or all of the remaining part of your estate once your family and friends have been provided for.
If you are unsure about what kind of gift you would like to give, simply talk to your solicitor who will be able to advise you further.
Once you’ve decided which charity you would like to leave a legacy to and what sort of gift, you’re ready to put your wishes down in writing in a Will.
Whilst it is possible to write your own Will, we recommend that you use a solicitor to ensure that your Will is valid under English law. Incorrect wording or the wrong choice of witnesses could lead to your Will being invalid, so it is best to employ the services of a qualified solicitor to guarantee that your Will is correct. You can use our comprehensive solicitors’ directory to find a solicitor in your area, who will write up a Will for you according to your specific wishes and circumstances. Alternatively, some charities provide a free Will-Making service – check the Legacy page on your favourite charity’s micro-site or, if they don’t have a Legacy page, contact them directly to find out.
If you have already provided for your family and friends by making a Will, but would like to alter it to include a gift to charity, you can do so by drawing up a codicil. A codicil is an addition or an amendment to your Will. This document is not legally binding on its own, so once you have downloaded and completed the codicil form, we recommend that you contact your solicitor to incorporate the codicil into your Will.
Ensuring your wishes are carried out properly
It is very important that the details of your charity are correctly written in your Will; any errors might mean that your charity won’t receive your gift. Make sure to include the charity’s name, full address and Registered Charity Number, and if you would like your gift to go to a specific appeal or department within the charity, specify this clearly too.
Let your charity know your intentions
Don’t forget to let your chosen charity that you’ve decided to provide for them in your Will. Not only will this help them to plan the future course of the charity, but they will also be able to thank you for your generosity and keep you informed of current projects and appeals.