Charity Wills: One-size-fits-all? 

In this article, we discuss circumstances where a “one-size-fits-all” type of Will may not protect or carry out the testator’s wishes entirely.

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It can be compelling to receive an e-mail with a gift voucher from your favourite charity to make a Will. These gift vouchers often allow the recipient to choose a solicitor or Will writer to instruct from a list of participating organisations. This type of arrangement is called a “Charity Will”; often, the charity sending you the voucher hopes that you will leave them a gift in the Will you make.

It must be noted that most charities will not make the use of the gift voucher conditional on receiving a gift in their Will in return. These schemes represent a good opportunity for the charities to say thank you to their loyal donors, and to leverage their presence in their donors’ minds.

There is nothing wrong in feeling inclined to use the gift voucher and, for many, it will represent a good prompt to put their affairs in order and to make or update their Will.

Making a Will through a solicitor may cost several hundred pounds. People may wonder why, with a Charity Will costing so much less, they should choose to use their own solicitor (rather than a firm participating in the Charity Will scheme).

It is important to consider the following:

  • The testator will have to choose the solicitor or Will writer they instruct from the list of firms and companies who have signed up to the scheme.
  • The gift voucher is likely to cover only the most basic type of Will, which may not be suitable for individuals with blended families, beneficiaries on means-tested benefits, individuals with disabilities, or young children. A Will which provides protection for these beneficiaries will be charged at a higher cost than the gift voucher covers, potentially resulting in no cost savings at all.
  • Many charities use the services of a Will writing company instead of a firm of solicitors with a view to keeping their costs down. In a previous article by our specialist Private Client team, we explore the key differences between a Will prepared by a Will writing company and a Will prepared by a solicitor. You can read that article here.

A testator should give thought to the type of Will they require and to the appropriate professional who can provide them with the advice and assistance that is most suitable for them.

A testator whose circumstances involve one or more of the following should be more mindful before making their Will through a Charity Will scheme:

  • An estate of a sizeable value, in particular an estate with a value over £2,000,000
  • Foreign assets, such as a holiday home abroad
  • A young family, where asset protection for minor children may be a priority
  • Beneficiaries with special educational needs
  • Concerned about inheritance tax mitigation
  • Concerned about care fees later in life
  • Concerned about protecting assets for their children and future generations
  • Supported their children financially in an unequal manner over the years and is now in need of compensating the children who have received less over time
  • Complex family dynamics: e.g. difficult relationships with children or other close relatives
  • An ongoing or imminent divorce
  • In a second marriage
  • A partner and is not yet married to them (or has entered a civil partnership with them), but they have interlinked finances and/or children, either together or from a previous relationship
  • A business owner
  • In need of professional executors because they do not have anyone else who can deal with their estate on their death.

The above list is not exhaustive; however, it provides a good guidance on the circumstances where a “one-size-fits-all” type of Will may not protect or carry out the testator’s wishes entirely.

If you are unsure as to whether a Charity Will is right for you, our expert Private Client team is pleased to offer you a complimentary no-obligation consultation, where we can help you to determine if such a Will is an adequate choice for you. At the end of our meeting, you will have a better understanding of what a Charity Will comprises of, helping you to make an informed decision about whether to accept the gift voucher received from your favourite charity.

For further information on how to make a new Will, or amend a current Will, please contact a member of our Private Client team.

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Charity Wills: One-size-fits-all? 

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