Leaving Gifts to Charity in your Will

By James Gould on

There is an interesting article in the news this week concerning the National Trust.  Grasmere Island in the Lake District is now, after over 120 years, coming into the ownership of the National Trust.  Grasmere Island was actually the reason the National Trust was first founded. 

Sir Robert Hunter, Canon Hardwick Worlsey and Mrs Octavia Hill founded the National Trust in 1895.  All three were frustrated that Grasmere Island had been sold to a private buyer rather than being preserved for the community. They therefore set up the National Trust to ensure that other notable property could be acquired and preserved for the nation.  Learning about this history, the most recent owner of Grasmere Island left the island to the National Trust in her will.  So, 124 years later, the National Trust has now come full circle. 

Why leave a gift to charity in your will?

The former owner of Grasmere Island (who specifically mentioned in her will that she did not wish to be named publicly), highlights a very serious topic; leaving money or property to charity in a will.  Leaving assets to a charity has become increasingly popular in recent years and there are many advantages of doing so.

The first, and most obvious advantage, is the opportunity to support a good cause.  Many charities rely upon the generous donations of individuals in their wills to support their very important work.

The second, and slightly more strategic advantage, is that any money or property left to a charity in a will, does not count towards the value of an estate for the purpose of inheritance tax (“IHT”). Therefore, people in possession of an estate which only just qualifies for IHT, may be able to bring the value of the estate down below the IHT threshold by making a gift to charity.

How do I leave a gift to charity?

There are a few ways in which you can leave a gift to charity in your will: 

  1. The first and most obvious will be to leave a specific gift to a charity. For example, a specific amount of money or a specific item of property. 
  2. Alternatively you can leave the charity a percentage of your residuary estate. This is the amount of your estate left after all the specific gifts have been distributed. The disadvantage of this is that you will never be certain exactly how much the charity will receive.  Indeed, there is a risk that, you may have no residuary estate after the specific gifts are distributed, leaving the charity with nothing. 
  3. Finally, you can put money or property in trust and name the charity as a beneficiary of such trust. 

Are you interested in making a gift to charity in your will?  Do you need a will or does your will need updating?  If so, the experienced Wills and Probate team at Levi Solicitors LLP can assist you.

 

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Grasmere