Leaving Legacy Gifts In Wills Now Top Of Agenda For Will Writers

Over two thirds of solicitors and Will writers are initiating conversations with their clients regarding leaving a charitable gift in Wills, according to a study commissioned by a charity consortium. 

Remember a Charity commissioned a tracking study from Future Thinking which revealed more UK legal advisers are raising the topic of charitable requests with their Will writing clients than ever before. 

The study revealed that 68% of solicitors and Will writers always or sometimes proactively raise the subject of legacy giving with their clients, which is up from 58% in 2012. In addition, 24% occasionally raise the topic with clients, while only 7% say they never bring the subject up in conversation – down from more than twice that (16%) 2012. 

Clearly the charity’s ‘Remember A Charity in your Will Week Campaign’ in September this year has helped to get solicitors and Will writers across the country to support them in their bid to change Brit’s perceptions of including a charitable gift in a Will. 

Talking about the campaign in September, Director of Remember a Charity, Rob Cope said:  

“The nation’s appetite for legacy giving is growing but there is a disconnect between the proportion of people that intend to leave a gift in their Will (40% of the over 40s) and the 6% that actually do so.”  

Gifts in Wills are a critical source of funding for charitable services across the country as they raise more than £3 billion for good causes annually and professional advisors play a pivotal role in opening up conversations about leaving legacies in Wills. 

Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, says:  

“Over the years, we’ve seen a marked change in the way that advisers are approaching gifts in Wills with clients. Legacy giving is becoming more common across the client base, and there’s much less reticence when it comes to raising the topic of charitable giving.”  

The consortium recognises the key role that advisers play in normalising legacy giving and raising vital funding for good causes annually, with research from the Behavioural Insights Team demonstrating that referencing the option with clients can double the proportion of those that go on to leave a gift. 

Cope adds:  

“Increasingly, advisers now see discussions about gifts in Wills as part and parcel of offering a comprehensive service to clients. In most cases, clients will want to look after friends and family first – and that’s something we’d encourage. But a simple question asking all Will-writing clients if they’d like to consider leaving a donation too can make a huge difference to the number of people that choose to give in this way.”  

On average, advisers report that 20% of the Wills they administer annually contain a charitable bequest, having risen steadily from 16% in 2012. 85% of the legal firms in the study had assisted in administering estates that included a charitable donation. 

The proportion of Wills going through probate that include a charitable bequest has risen from 12.2% to 15.8% over the past decade, with more than 10,000 charities named in Wills annually. 

Advisers that always open up legacy giving conversations with clients typically do so because it is part of their standard Will-writing process or because they want to alert clients to the tax breaks linked to leaving a charitable bequest.  

More than seven in ten (71%) of advisers always or sometimes reference the tax advantages of leaving a gift to charity. Any legacy gift to charity is currently exempt from Inheritance Tax (charged at 40%), and a lower rate of tax (36%) is applicable on estates where 10% or more is donated.  

Matthew Lagden, CEO of the Institute of Legacy Management commented on the findings of the research. He said:  

“ILM welcomes this report and the good news it contains, which is a testament to the hard work Remember a Charity, ILM and the Law Society have done in improving relationships between legal advisors and charities. We have also seen a much greater readiness to engage with charities, and a greater understanding on the part of legal advisors of the value of charitable legacies. This can only be good news for the future of legacy giving.” 

Remember A Charity is now working with the legal sector to develop a new suite of materials that will help to bring greater consistency and demonstrate best practice for the way that advisers can reference charitable giving with clients. 

This month, it was revealed that bequests to charities had fallen in the third quarter of 2019 because of probate delays taking hold of the sector.  

Recent statistics from Legacy Foresight found that bequests to charities had fallen by 8%, year on year, in the third quarter of 2019 – highlighting the damage caused by continuous probate delays 

Meanwhile, legal technology within the sector has evolved and is now transforming the world of legacy giving and those firms who have adopted legal tech in their Will-making processes have revolutionised the face of legal giving – making the process simpler more efficient and cost effective for consumers. 

With charities increasingly reliant on legacy gifts, this latest research from Remember A Charity is a breath of fresh air to those charity organisations and stakeholders who work in the charity sector. 

As gifts in Wills are a precious and vital source of funding for charities of all sizes, the use of technology, along with the help of legal advisers, solicitors and Will writers opening up a dialogue about leaving gifts in Wills will encourage the nation to pass on much needed legacy to radically change lives and change the legal giving landscape. 

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