Leaving money to charity – what are the options?

Leaving money to charity is something many of us may think about doing. There is often a charity that is close to our hearts – because they have made life easier or better for a loved one, or because it is a cause aligned with our ethical beliefs.

But before you choose to leave money to your favourite charity in your Will, you might want to consider the following…

Firstly, do you want to leave some of your estate to charity, or would it be better to gift money while you are still alive?

Actually, this applies just as much to your family as it does to any chosen charity. If you gift money while you are still around to see it, you can see the joy you have given and the impact your donation has made.

It’s certainly worth considering.

If you decide you would prefer to wait until you have passed away, there are still further considerations.

Should you leave money in your Will or set up a Trust?

There is nothing wrong with doing it via your Will. However, all Wills are public documents, so can be accessed by anyone.

It is not uncommon for charities to be aware before death that they will be beneficiaries and to be very enthusiastic in their pursuit of their portion of the estate.

You should also know that charities tend to get paid before other beneficiaries, so you may wish to think about how this will impact your family.

Trusts are private documents, so in this instance charities would only be aware that they are beneficiaries when the executors advise them. Equally, you can also determine at what stage in their lives, or age, beneficiaries will inherit, which can be very useful.

If you have family and loved ones who will not be beneficiaries, you need to think through why you have made that decision.

We recommend writing a letter to each member of your family who would have been considered an heir, explaining why you have made the decisions you have about your estate.

Ultimately, it is up to you how you choose to bequeath your estate.

However, explaining your reasons in writing will help to reduce the risk of family members contesting the Will after your death.

Should you decide to leave money to charity in your Will and subsequently change your mind, we also recommend you write a letter or have this documented in some way.

You can imagine that charities have been finding it very tough in recent times to keep their coffers filled, so they may well contest the Will if they consider they have missed out on a portion of your estate.

As we have talked about before, much of the emotional turmoil that can arise from choosing to leave part of your estate to a third party, can be reduced with good communication.

When you have decided exactly how you want to share your estate, we recommend having a family meeting or get together, where you take the time to explain your choices, and perhaps your reasons too. If this can be done at a time when you are in good health, and your loved ones don’t foresee this happening for some time, it is usually accepted with much better grace.

If you would like help with drawing up your Will or creating a Trust, please contact us on 01344 875 310.

Leaving money to charity – what are the options?