Giving Back Beyond Life: The Rise of Charitable Wills

A study has found that one quarter of all Wills drawn up by Will writers or solicitors now includes a charitable gift. The charity group Remember A Charity commissioned independent researcher Savanta to question those preparing Wills.

The survey found that legal professionals actively encourage charitable giving. Nearly three-quarters (73%) reported that they always or sometimes mention the option of leaving a bequest to clients drafting their Wills.  This approach seems to be working. Almost one-quarter (24%) of professionally-prepared Wills now include a gift to charity. This represents a substantial increase of 16% since 2016, with steady growth each year culminating in the 2022 survey.  Furthermore, over a third (36%) of professionals surveyed stated they always raise the question of charitable giving during Will consultations. However, less than one-tenth (9%) admitted to never mentioning it. The most common reason cited for not raising the issue was a concern about influencing the client’s decision.

The importance of charitable gifts in Wills
The charitable sector relies heavily on bequests, which are the single largest source of voluntary income for UK charities. Around £3.85 billion is received each year by charities from gifts left in Wills.  This allows them to continue the work that they do. Lucinda Frostick, director at Remember A Charity said: “Once clients have taken care of their family and loved ones in their Will, the option to leave a charitable gift and lasting legacy to positively impact the world after they are gone can be hugely empowering and inspiring.  This benchmarking study charts a continual rise in the proportion of Wills made through solicitors and Will-writers that include a charitable gift. These donations may not arrive for some years yet, but they will fund vital services and charities’ core costs for generations to follow.”
Why Will writers and solicitors believe some clients do not leave a gift to charity

The survey reveals barriers to charitable legacies:

  • 83% prioritize leaving everything to family.
  • 38% struggle to choose a charity.
  • 38% fear disputes over charitable gifts.
Estate administration

The survey also explored experiences with charitable gifts during estate administration. Over three-quarters (77%) of firms surveyed reported handling estates that included charitable bequests. More than half (56%) found these charities easy to work with. However, only 13% encountered any difficulties.  For those who did experience challenges (22%), the most common reason cited was excessive communication from the charities.

Leaving a charitable gift in your Will
If you ask a Wills solicitor to draft your Will, they will be able to ensure that your charitable gift is correctly set out, including details such as the charity number and what you would like to happen in the event that your chosen charity has ceased to exist. A gift left to charity will be exempt from Inheritance Tax. If you leave 10% or more of your net estate to charity, the rate of Inheritance Tax paid by your estate will be reduced from 40% to 36%. You can choose a charity which aligns with your beliefs or carries out work that you strongly believe in. Alternatively, there may be a charity which has helped your or your family during your lifetime and that you would like to remember in your Will.
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