Leaving a gift to charity in your Will

We encourage everyone over the age of 18 draw up a Will and keep it up to date as it’s the only way to ensure your wishes are carried out when you die. A valid Will also lessens the burden on loved ones who may otherwise face significant financial and legal complications.

As well as leaving assets to loved ones and friends, you may also leave a donation to one or more charities. These are known as legacy gifts or legacies. They are an excellent way of ensuring causes close to your heart can continue their good work after you’ve gone.

Legacy gifts can be:

  • A residuary gift – a percentage of your estate after debts have been paid and specific gifts have been distributed
  • A pecuniary gift – a fixed sum of money
  • A specific gift – assets or items you wish to donate

You can include how you would like your donation to be used in your Will to support a specific area of your chosen charity’s work.

Why leave a legacy in your Will?

As well as helping your chosen charity or charities, leaving a legacy gift may reduce inheritance tax as the donation is taken off the value of your estate before tax is calculated.

Inheritance tax is a complicated area but, generally speaking, 40% of your estate over the threshold of £325,000 is payable. Charitable donations over 10% of the net value of your estate may reduce inheritance tax to 36% on some assets, although the rules are complex so this might not apply to everyone.

Although donating to a charity this way can reduce the amount inheritance tax paid, it does of course mean that other beneficiaries (such as children or siblings) will inherit less even when you consider the reduction in inheritance tax. This can cause arguments with those who want to maximise their entitlement, so it’s crucial that your wishes are set out in your Will.

How much money is left to charities in Wills?

A major amount of vital charity income comes from legacy gifts. Legacies have continued to be resilient when other income streams are performing less well due to the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis.

According to Legacy Foresight’s Legacy Market Review 2023, charity legacy income in the year 2022/23 was estimated to be up to £4bn. That’s an annual income growth of 6.5%.

Long-term, legacy income is predicted to grow, but Legacy Forecast predicts that the next few months may see average legacy values falling due to the housing market being less buoyant.

How do I go about leaving a legacy gift?

To leave a legacy, simply provide details at the time of your Will-writing appointment. You will need to take the charity’s name, address and registered charity number with you and have decided, or be prepared to discuss, the amount you’re pledging or the item(s) you’re donating. If you have a specific activity or area of the charity you’d like to support this can be stipulated, or the Will can state ‘for general charitable purposes.’

Most charities love to connect with their pledgers so they can thank them properly, keep them up to date with their news and demonstrate the impact their gift will make.  Some charities also have a legacy team or person in place to answer any questions, so take a look online.

What else needs to go into a Will?

Our blog ‘Five essential things to include in your Will’ is a great starting point if you need to write your first Will.

How can AGR Law help?

Our experienced team can draw up a legally binding joint or individual Wills which sets out your wishes for your estate after you’ve died. Contact us to find out more on 0116 340 0094 or email hello@agrlaw.co.uk