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Leaving a gift to charity in your Will

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Leaving a gift to charity in your Will, Kathryn Thornewill

Many people in the UK support charities during their lifetime, but many don’t realise they can also leave a gift in their Will. Here’s how you can carry on giving after you’re gone…

Where there’s a Will

When it comes to leaving a charity a gift in your Will, there are a number of ways to go about it. You can leave:

  • a specific sum of money
  • a share of your estate
  • a specific item, such as furniture or jewellery

It’s important to remember, that the correct information is included when you write your Will, so your gift to the charity is clear and unambiguous. This is where specialist advice from a Solicitor is helpful, to make sure your gift to the charity is honoured.

Effects on inheritance tax

Leaving a gift to a charity doesn’t count towards the total value of your estate for inheritance tax (IHT) purposes, due to the ‘charity exemption’. Leaving a gift may also have the effect of reducing the amount of IHT payable on a taxable estate. This is a more complex area of law, so if you wish to leave a gift to charity with the main purpose of reducing IHT payable on death, it’s a good idea to get specialist legal advice.

Effects on claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

It’s also important to note that charitable legacies are not immune from attracting a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (IPFDA). A claim under this act is usually bought by a family member or partner who don’t believe they’ve been adequately provided for under the Will.

The number of claims of this nature being issued against charities is on the increase and the courts appear to have a certain degree of distaste for upholding a Will, which excludes family members in favour of charities the deceased had no links to during their lifetime.

For this reason, it’s important to obtain advice about the ways you can limit the possibility of a claim being bought by a family member or partner. This could be done, for example, by including a detailed letter, which explains why certain family members are not benefiting under your Will. Alternatively, you could include them in your Will, but leave them a smaller percentage/sum of money.

Ask the experts

If you do want to include a gift to a charity in your Will, whether it’s a specific sum of money or a share of your estate, it’s important you get the right legal advice. This is to make sure your gift is valid and clear, you understand the implications on IHT through making the gift, and the possible knock-on effects for those who are benefiting less, or not at all, due to your gift to charity.

If you’d like help preparing a Will and would like advice on inheritance tax or ways to limit the possibility of an IPFDA claim being brought against your estate, please get in touch on 01908 660966 or email me on

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