Millions of Britons are risking turmoil and financial strife by not understanding of how best to leave money to charities in their Wills, according to Saga Legal Services. According to new research of 1,000 adults, half of all British people say they plan to leave a charitable legacy when they die, with as many as 42 percent of those intending to leave a substantial sum of at least £1,000.
Eight in ten plan to leave a set amount of money, but this doesn't take into account reductions to the value of the Estate between when the Will was written and when it comes into effect. If the Estate is by then significantly reduced, the amount left to charity would remain the same, potentially leading to other beneficiaries such as family and friends being left with significantly less than expected.
All Wills are made public after death and some charities check the Probate Service to locate any assets owed to them before proactively working to collect them. At an emotional time, this is a potentially distressing situation for next of kin who may be chased for the bequest with the deceased's affairs not yet being in order. To avoid this, it may make sense not to disclose the name of the charity in the Will, but rather in a Letter of Wishes–a non-legally binding document which can be stored alongside the Will. Saga Legal Services also recommends leaving any charitable legacies as a set percentage of the net value of the Estate so it stays in proportion to the amount going to other beneficiaries, ensuring loved ones are provided for when you go.
Advising on the best way in which to leave money to charity, Saga Legal Services has released a free Guide to Leaving a Charitable Legacy. As well as information on the risks, the guide explains the various options for how to leave a charitable legacy in the right way.
Emma Myers, Head of Wills, Probate and Lifetime Planning for Saga Legal Services says:
“Whilst it's wonderful to see so many people planning to leave money to charity, there does seem to be some confusion on the best way to do this. Leaving a set amount to a specific charity could mean that you're leaving less than you think to your other beneficiaries, such as family, if your Estate is reduced through care home fees or inheritance tax, for example. The Saga Legal Services Guide to Leaving a Charitable Legacy gives the public the knowledge to make the right decisions, leading to a win-win for all involved."
Top Tips for Leaving a Charitable Legacy
By Emma Myers, Head of Wills, Probate and Lifetime Planning for Saga Legal Services
2. Don't specify which charity you want to leave money to in your Will. Specify it in a Letter of Wishes instead as this will provide more control
3. Consider how a Charitable Legacy might affect your tax position. Leaving a little more than you plan could reduce the rate of Inheritance tax you pay
4. Ensure you talk your decision through with your family. This will avoid disputes and legal wrangling after you're gone
5. Pick your Executors carefully. This will help to ensure your wishes, including the charitable legacy, are carried out in the way you intended
6. Seek legal advice from an expert if you are planning to update your Will. The easiest way to do this is using a Codicil
7. Review your Will regularly and update when necessary. Changes to personal circumstances, fluctuations in the size of your Estate and the status of your chosen charity are all reasons to review your Will
For more information or to download the Guide to Charitable Legacies visit www.Saga.co.uk/legal or call 0800 656 9927