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Legacies: here’s what’s happening now

 ILM Conference. Chris Millward

From recent case law to new data protection rules to ‘Death Cafes’, there are many developments for legacy fundraisers to keep on top of, as highlighted at the recent ILM Conference. Chris Millward rounds up the key takeaways from the event

 

The Institute of Legacy Management (ILM) Conference is an annual event which provides legacy professionals those responsible for the successful and sensitive management of gifts left to charity in wills with the opportunity to keep up-to-date with key issues and current challenges facing the sector.

 

On 12 May over 250 delegates enjoyed a day of informative sessions and speakers. They left armed with practical advice and support to help them make the most of the opportunities, and meet the many challenges, that today’s legacy fundraising environment confers.

 

For those who were unable to make it to this year’s conference, we don’t want you to feel left behind so here’s a roundup of the key takeaway points:

 

Ilott v Mitson  what next?

 

In February, I wrote in The Fundraiser about the importance of this case for the charity sector.  

 

James Aspden of Wilsons LLP, the firm that represented the charities in this case, provided a timely and well-received update on the judgment and the implications for charities. He provided delegates with what he believed were the ten top learnings from the case:

 

10. Testamentary freedom is the starting point

9. The applicant has to show need

8. A lump sum can be an appropriate way to meet ongoing living expenses

7. An award is towards maintenance needs, not to cover them entirely

6. The court usually should not award money to buy a house

5. Benefits should be regarded as part of the applicant’s resources

4. A long estrangement can produce a lower award, or no award

3. The 1975 Act is not there to reward good behaviour, or punish bad

2. The deceased’s wishes matter

1. A gift to charity should be respected.

 

ILM was delighted with the outcome of the case, which we believe to be a victory not just for the charities involved but for everyone in terms of testamentary freedom.

 

Although it’s still unclear what the long-term impact of this ruling will be, ILM and its members hope the clarity provided by the outcome will help to secure more future legacy gifts for charities, and ensure that generous donors’ final wishes continue to achieve their greatest potential.

 

GDPR charities warned of “huge penalties” for non-compliance

 

With the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) due to come into force in under a year, this is a vital topic for our members and the wider sector to understand. Daff Richardson of Penningtons Manches, who gave delegates an overview of the new rules, pointed out the “huge penalties” businesses face for non-compliance. It is vital that all businesses, including charities, are aware of the upcoming changes in the regulations and are fully prepared for them when they come into force next May.

 

For more information on preparing for the upcoming changes, see the Information Commissioner’s Guide. ILM will be producing a new Guidance Note in July highlighting specific issues in relation to legacy administration and legacy giving more broadly. Keep an eye on our website for further information.

 

Death Cafes

 

A highlight of this year’s conference was the UK’s biggest ever Death Cafe. Death Cafe is a growing global movement, started in 2011 by Jon Underwood, “to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives”.

 

At a Death Cafe, people come together to have honest conversations around death and dying in a relaxed, non-judgmental space, over tea and cake. And that is exactly what took place at the conference, with people around the tables being invited to have an honest conversation about their experiences of death and dying.

 

This was something a bit different for us, but we wanted to add something more personal to the conference to complement the legal and technical updates, and our cafe sessions certainly provoked some interesting discussions around the tables, with delegates describing the session as “thought-provoking and useful” and “very unique and relevant to us in our work”.

 

We hope that participation in the session will help encourage legacy professionals to think more about the taboos surrounding death and dying, and give them food for thought in the ways that they might approach their work in the future.

 

Please check the Death Cafe website if you would like to find out more about the movement, and see if there is an event taking place near you.

 

Good Practice Guidance

 

Almost a year ago, I wrote in The Fundraiser about our plans to produce Good Practice Guidance. This was in response to a range of concerns among legacy professionals around certain issues including their relationships with solicitors, communicating with executors, working with other charities, governance and income recognition. We were very aware that legacy teams need to be empowered and supported to produce the best results for their charity, while remaining aware of their responsibilities and acting appropriately.

 

We were delighted to launch the guidance in February this year, following consultation with our members and a range of other key stakeholders. Our annual conference, as a whole, was loosely structured around the principles within it, and a summary of the guide and its content were distributed to all attendees on the day.

 

We believe the guidance will help to increase understanding bridging the gap between legacy professionals and others such as solicitors, senior charity staff and executors involved in the administration of legacy gifts.

 

We strongly believe that legacy teams within charities need to be supported, and given the resources and training they need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. We would encourage everyone who works within legacies and the wider charity sector to understand the role they can play in supporting this success by taking a look at our guidance.

 

We will be reviewing the guidance in the coming months, and welcome all feedback.

You can view the guidance on our website.

 

Chris Millward is chief executive of the Institute of Legacy Management

 

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