Make a lasting difference with your Will
We may give generously to charity as a nation, but when it comes to our Wills very few of us make provision for our favourite causes. With legacies a vital source of income for voluntary organisations, Remember a Charity Campaigns Officer Louise Pavoni urges us to consider including a charity in our Will.
We’re undoubtedly a charitably minded nation, with 74% of us supporting charities. When asked, 35% of people say they’d happily leave a gift in their Will once family and friends had been provided for. The problem is only 7% actually do. It’s a common myth that only the rich and famous leave money to charity when they die. The reality is that without gifts left in Wills by people like you, many of the charities we support wouldn’t exist.
It is a little known fact that charitable gifts in Wills currently contribute over £2 billion a year to the sector§ – yet this sum is generated by only 7.3% of the public. This demonstrates the huge potential of legacy income. If the rate of legacy giving rose to just 11% of the population, this could create an additional one billion for the causes we care about.
It’s also worth noting that there is no inheritance tax (40%) payable on legacies. Moreover, if you leave 10% or more of your estate to charity, your inheritance tax reduces to 36%. Every gift, however large or small, helps to ensure your favourite charity’s work can continue. Making a Will is one of the most important decisions you will ever make – vital for making your final wishes known. So why is it that so many of us shy away from getting our affairs in order?
If you haven’t taken the time to write yours, you’re certainly not alone. Over half of the UK populationπand almost four in ten over-50s haven’t made a Will*. Let’s be honest, this is largely down to the fact that writing a Will means acknowledging our mortality. It’s hard for us to accept this finality and plan for the future. As a nation, we find it difficult to be open about death and bereavement. I can recall only a couple of times my parents have bravely brought up the subject of updating their Will. Each attempt was met with nervous looks from my brother and I, and a reluctance to engage in any real conversation.
The challenge that we face is to be brave and open up conversation, helping loved ones to prepare for the inevitable. While it can be daunting to think about allocating your assets and possessions, doing so will ensure you alleviate the pressure for them during an already stressful time.
The first step is simple. Sit down with your local solicitor or Will-writer who will guide you through the process. If you’re concerned about anything, it’s their role to advise you and put your mind at rest. It’s a lot more affordable and straightforward than you may think to make a Will. By speaking to a professional advisor, you ensure everything is covered and arranged as you would like. Many people like to draw up their own, but this can be complex and mistakes can render the Will invalid. If you’re considering having yours written online, remember that a website may not cater to your needs and provide the same tailored document that a qualified professional will.
In October 2014 the intestacy laws in England and Wales were simplified. These amendments will impact a great number of families when you bear in mind how many people don’t dedicate time to writing their Will. Under the new rules, if a person who is married or in a civil partnership dies and they have no children, the surviving spouse receives the whole estate. Previously a portion went to the deceased’s blood relatives. For couples with children, the surviving partner receives the first £250,000 plus half of the remainder of the estate, which originally reverted to the children when he or she died. The remaining assets are held for the children. In light of this, it is arguably more important than ever to make a Will and be clear about your final wishes.
I urge you to be open and speak to those close to you about your Will. By doing so, you can rest assured that they will be looked after long into the future. And after taking care of family and friends, why not consider a cause close to your heart.
Search for your local solicitor or Will-writer via Remember A Charity’s trusted network.
Find a cause you care about: rememberacharity.org.uk/find-a-charity
Remember A Charity is formed of 140 of the UK’s favourite charities, working together to encourage more people to consider leaving a charitable gift in their Will, once they’ve looked after family and friends. Twitter: @RememberCharity
§ Legacy Foresight 2014
π Will Aid 2014