Wills overlooked as a way of giving to charity

Law Society research shows that few people leave a gift to charity in their will despite high overall levels of charitable giving in the UK.

“Charitable giving is generally high in the UK. According to the Charities Aid Foundation’s 2019 report, 57% of people said they had given to charity in the last year,” said Law Society of England and Wales president David Greene.*

“However, many people may be unaware that their will is another way to give to causes close to their heart.”

A Law Society survey, which took place just after the first lockdown restrictions began to ease, showed that well over half (59%) of those surveyed said they did not have a will. Just 29% said they have an up-to-date will which reflects their current intentions.

Of those who had made a will, just 20% had included a charity as a beneficiary in their will.**

David Greene added: “Our research indicates that people’s charitable habits during their lifetime don’t always translate into their will.

“Many may also be unaware that any donations given to charities in wills are tax-free.

“For those with larger estates, leaving 10% or more of their estate to charity, can also have tax benefits. An expert solicitor will be able to advise on how people can best donate to charity in their will and if these tax benefits apply.

“More broadly, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of the UK public do not have an up-to-date will.

“Many people are unaware of the chaos they can leave behind if they do not make a will or regularly update one to reflect their current wishes.

“If someone dies without making a will – also known as dying intestate – the law determines how much of their estate their spouse, children and other relatives will inherit. Under intestacy laws, unmarried partners, charities and close friends cannot inherit, meaning loved ones could be left with nothing.

“Free Wills Month in March brings together several charities and offers those aged 55 or over the chance to make a will for free with participating solicitors in the hope participants will leave a gift in their will to their favourite charity.

“Whether through Free Wills Month or otherwise, we strongly encourage those haven’t yet done so to put their affairs in order.

“Writing a legally valid will with an expert solicitor, ensures people’s estates are inherited exactly as they would choose and can prevent a whole raft of problems landing on loved ones when they are grieving.”

Notes to editors

* According to the Charities Aid Foundation’s 2019 UK Giving report, 57% of people said they had given to charity in the last year.

**A Populus survey of more than 1,000 members of the public commissioned by the Law Society asked several questions about whether people had made a will. The survey took place in late June 2020.

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