Legal Tech Is Revolutionising Legacy Giving

Legal technology within the Wills and Probate industry has evolved and is now transforming the world of legacy giving.

With technology changing the way the world communicates, its impact on business has been huge, fast-moving and continues to grow.

Those who work with Wills have started to see legal technology as a game-changer which can act as a driving force for increased efficiency and profitability.

It is only a relatively short space of time where those who draft Wills would have previously relied on simplistic software and written notes or paper instructions.

But the legal sector is now catching up to what clients expect with more and more firms/businesses looking at new systems so they can be more efficient. Using new technology has allowed businesses to grow, provides a much better service, saves time and in turn increases their revenue.

Those firms which have adopted legal tech in their will-making processes are revolutionising the face of legacy giving. Of course, there are other factors in play but essentially, new technology makes the process simpler, more efficient and cost-effective.

According to a recent report launched by the leading analysts of legacy fundraising, Legacy Foresight, predicts that Legacy and in-memory donations to UK charities will be worth twice as much in real terms in 25 years’ time, reaching £10 billion by 2045. This is largely due to more deaths, more will-making and a higher proportion of people leaving bequests.

Other than reducing IHT, the top charitable bequest motives are a desire to support a charity and the ultimate use of the gift by the charity, according to Legacy Voice and University of Plymouth’s Legacy Giving 2018 report. Interestingly, findings from the report cited the most significant changes in donor motivation was the increase in influence of professional advisors. A similar study was conducted in 1992 which found only 4% of participants had confirmed that a legal professional had suggested a bequest, but the figure climbed to 21% in 2000.The report suggested that by 2017 this figure would have crept up even higher.

Even though the nation’s appetite for legacy giving is growing, there is still a misconception over leaving gifts in Wills. There have been numerous awareness campaigns to change public perceptions and encourage professionals to take action. In September this year, Remember A Charity called on legal advisors to support the Will Week campaign by committing to inform relevant clients about legacy giving and the relevant tax breaks.

As will-making is connected to the giving of legacies, it is helpful to understand the Barriers to legacy giving which is that firstly people are just not getting around to making their Wills, or reluctant to consider their mortality, people think they are too young to make a Will – with some adamant they have no assets to leave.

Leaders in the charity industry express their views on how new technology has impacted on legacy giving. Matthew Lagden, CEO of Institute of Legacy Management said:

“ILM believes that technology could revolutionise both legacy giving and the world of probate as a whole over the next few years. From online will writing through to increasing automation and the use of digital tools in the administration of estates, these changes will present challenges as well as great opportunities for legacy professionals. ILM is working closely with other sector and professional bodies to try and ensure that we can seize these opportunities while ensuring that safeguards are in place to protect vulnerable individuals.

“We are also looking at the potential role that technology, and in particular case management tools, could play in making legacy administration more efficient while enabling our members to fulfil their role of ensuring that donors’ final wishes achieve the maximum possible impact.

“We are also grateful for the way in which online will writers are working closely with the charity sector to put legacy giving at the heart of their operations.”

Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity further commented:

“Digital has really transformed the landscape for legacy giving. Not so long ago, legacies were primarily the domain of large charities; those who were able to invest in communicating the importance of gifts in Wills to their supporters. But digital has levelled the playing field for the public and charities alike. It means that people can now write a Will quickly and easily, and charities of all sizes are using social media and digital channels to reach out to supporters effectively and at very low cost.

“It’s not just about reach of digital of course, it’s about the medium itself. Digital and broadcast really lend themselves to conversation. It gives us a chance to break down the myths about legacy giving, addressing the barriers and creating emotive content that has a strong appeal to supporters.”

Save the Children charity describes digital as ‘integral’ to the charity’s legacy fundraising strategy and future plans. Isobel Stewart, Legacy Marketing Manager, says:

“No legacy campaign these days is complete without an online journey for the supporter.”

She explains:

“It would be a huge mistake to assume that Baby Boomers are not digitally literate, and they’re not just able but actively willing to engage with legacy messaging online. In fact, our current campaign results so far have shown our highest digital engagement yet and our online guide requests are more than 10 times that of our offline responses.

“Digital fundraising gives us a really fun, dynamic and cost-effective way to engage with our supporters. What’s more, our digital results are increasing year on year, showing not just how we can learn from and improve on each campaign, but also how the supporter appetite for digital fundraising is growing.”

Stephanie Moss, Legacy Manager at Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) commented:

“As older generations have gained more access to the online world, this has revolutionised giving behaviours. Donors have the ability to research charities and donate to a cause halfway across the planet, at the click of a button and from the comfort of their own home, in a way that simply wasn’t possible a generation ago.

“It will be fascinating to see how new technology influences legacy giving in the years to come. It’s likely that smaller, more local charities will have a better chance of getting their message out to older people via social media for example, as a result increasing the likelihood of small charities receiving legacies from generous benefactors in their wills.”

Even though large and health-related charities still dominate the legacy landscape, smaller charities are now having a bigger share of the legacy market.

The legacy market has been growing fast in Wales and according to Remember A Charity’s new report ‘Welsh Legacy Fundraising Market 2019’ released in the summer, top welsh charities are becoming more and more reliant on income from charitable legacies.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home have revealed to Today’s Wills and Probate that to date, in 2019, 18% of the charity’s new legacy enquiries have come via the web. While the combined benefit of targeted online advertising and the inclusion of a legacy information request form on the legacy area of the charity’s website led to 179 new legacy enquiries in 2018 – this figure has almost doubled in 2019.

Michelle Adelman, Legacy & In Memory Fundraising Manager at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home explains how digital technology has enabled them to reach out to new audiences. She said:

“Digital channels, particularly Facebook, have enabled Battersea to reach a broader demographic online. Advertising through Facebook, which is widely used by a range of age groups, means that we’ve been able to target communications to our traditional older audience, the baby boomer generation and a much younger demographic who may be thinking about Will-making at key life stages. Adding digital to our marketing mix has driven responses from existing and new supporters.

“The main benefit of using digital advertising is that results can be seen and analysed much quicker than offline channels, which means we can test and learn quickly, ultimately leading to cost effectiveness and savings for the charity.”

James Stebbings, Head of Legacy Income at Macmillan Cancer Support talks about how technology may impact legacies in the future. He said:

“It is clear that technology will have a massive impact on will making and estate administration in the next couple of decades.  I don’t think anyone really knows what the impact will be but at Macmillan we want to work with organisations that are using innovative technology to make life easier for us and our supporters.

“We are already seeing supporters embrace online will writing and we want to work with any organisation that is able to offer our supporters great products that are easy and safe to use. If we can make will writing easy and safe we will increase the number of supporters with a will and almost certainly the number of people leaving a gift to Macmillan and other charities.

“In terms of legacy administration, I am of the view that legacy officers will continue to remain at the heart of processes for the foreseeable future, but I do think that technology will enable us to deal with more cases more efficiently. I hope that we will continue to see improvements in the databases and systems we use, with things like automatically logged emails, contact history reading panes, better reporting of complex cases, automatic estimates and valuations from Smee & Ford notifications, automated estimate updates as a result of live connections with the land registry or London Stock exchanges just a few of the things that might benefit us in the coming years.

“With legacy income set to become the key source of income for fundraising charities in the coming years it is exciting to imagine what gains investment in technology can bring.”

A software solutions provider for legal services has proven new technology facilitates an increase in legacy giving. Arken Professional includes a prompt for clients to consider charitable gifts in their Will and goes that step further by offering access to an extensive charity database to select from. 16.53% of Wills created within Arken include charitable gifts. Research shows that Professional Advisors who ask their clients if they wish to consider leaving a gift to charity in their Will, increases charitable bequests.

Dave Newick, Managing Director of (UK) Ltd said:

“We can expect to see this increase continue with the advent of online Wills and the closer collaboration between charities and Professional Advisors.

He adds:

“Millennials will also play a pivotal part – 76% of this socially-aware, tech-savvy generation do not have a Will. Technology provides the accessibility and affordability to appeal to this group. We predict charitable giving will increase significantly as a result.”

The use of online Will providers has grown in recent years, bringing innovative tech-based solutions to the Wills and probate market, making the process easier, cheaper and convenient.

Dan Garrett, CEO of Farewill commented on the impact of technology on will writing and their approach to encourage legacies. He said:

“Technology is having a huge impact on will writing, making it cheaper and easier than ever to write a will. At Farewill, we’re constantly testing new approaches to encourage legacy giving, ranging from the point at which customers are prompted, to how the question itself is structured. We recently implemented a new prompt within our software which has since increased gift inclusion significantly in the wills we write. This relatively simple step has already made a difference to how much will be left to charities – our average legacy donations are already nearly 8x the national average. The next ten years will be huge for legacy fundraisers. Intergenerational wealth transfer is set to double – and with it, the amount of money going to charities through gifts in wills.

“Traditionally legacy fundraising has often only been something for big brand charities to really invest in. That’s changing, as running campaigns becomes more affordable, and crucially – the results become more trackable. It’s now possible to launch a campaign to a warm supporter email list, and get a good handle on the results within 48h. Trends in people leaving legacies also suggest moving more towards smaller, more local causes, or campaigning organisations. It’s a really exciting time to be involved with the Legal Tech sector.”

Following the latest Brexit news, the UK legacy market is predicted to increase by nearly £600 million by 2024, according to Legacy Foresight. The findings are based on the recent decision to extend the Brexit deadline to 31st January 2020 and to hold a general election on 12th December 2019.

Gifts in Wills are a critical source of funding for charitable services across the country, raising more than £3 billion for good causes. The use of technology and the help of stakeholders and organisations opening up conversations about leaving gifts will inspire and encourage Brits to pass on a legacy – which will ultimately transform lives and radically shift the legacy giving landscape.


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