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Wills FAQ Book

Today we are pleased to welcome guest contributor Drew Davies from Unicef UK, who talks to us about how to leave a legacy to charity in your Will:

If you’ve been putting off making a Will, you’re in good company. Most people in the UK are busy doing the same, with only 36% of us have written our Wills in 2014, according to the Law Society.

By making a Will, however, you can do more than simply state how your estate and possessions should be divided. You can make guardianship arrangements for children under 18 and name trustees who will take care of their inheritance until they grow up.

You can also arrange to make charitable donations through gifts left in your Will. Many of us support charities throughout life, so a gift in your Will is a natural extension of that caring. It’s impossible though, without a Will.

Be Careful With Names

Some charities have names that sound very similar to others, either because they include the same words or because they have the same acronyms. Making sure your gift goes to the charity you intend is easy enough if you also include the registered charity number along with the name and exact address.

If a professional is helping you draw up your Will, they can help you make sure you have the charity details correct. If you’re using a Will writing service online, check with the Charity Commission websites for either England and Wales or Scotland to find the registered number.

Choose One of Three Kinds of Gift

There are three different kinds of gift in your Will you can leave to charity, each with different conditions and outcomes. Which you choose depends on individual circumstances and how complicated your affairs are.

A gift of the residue leaves a specified share of your estate to charity, once all family, friends or other beneficiaries are taken care of, for example, “I leave 10% of my residuary estate to charity X”. This is the most popular form of gift in Wills.

A gift of money sets out a specific amount that you wish to leave to charity, for example, “I leave £1000 to charity X”.

A “reversionary” gift lets you leave your estate to your dependents during their lifetime, but then goes to the charity when they pass away, for example, “I leave the residue to X during their lifetime and on their death, the residue passes to charity X”.

Making Changes to an Existing Will

You can decide to leave a gift at any time, even if you have already written your Will, without the need to draw up an entirely new document. In fact, it’s recommended that Wills are reviewed every few years to make sure they are still up to date since events like births and marriages can mean changes in the family structure and finances.

Changes are made to existing Wills through the addition of a Codicil, which is attached to the Will and is signed and witnessed just as the original document was. If you decide later to include a gift to charity, you can do so through the addition of a codicil at any time.

If you haven’t made your Will yet, now is a good time. Not only will you ensure the security and well-being of your family after your passing, you can arrange to leave a legacy for a charity to help with their ongoing aid and research.

Drew writes for Unicef UK see their website for more information.

Related Links

Make A Will
Will & Estate Planning Glossary of Terms