8 September 2021

Leaving gifts to charity in your Will

Hands placing money into a box.

The International Day of Charity takes place annually on 5th September, but did you know that one of the best ways to support a charity is to leave them a gift in your Will? Many UK charities rely on donations left by their supporters, and any gift you leave could make a huge difference to the work of the organisation. Leaving money to a charity in your Will does not just benefit the organisation, it can also be beneficial to your estate too (for example in relation to inheritance tax). In this article we look at some of the most common questions people have about leaving money to charity in their Will.

How can I leave money to charity in my Will?

Generally speaking, there are two ways to leave money to charity in your Will.

The first option is to, very simply, directly name any charities that you wish to donate to in your Will. Alternatively, you can leave money or property in a trust and it will then be up to your trustees to decide how it is donated.

Where you choose to name a specific charity, it is always best to include the charity number. Many charities have similar names, or the name of the charity may change over time, and by including the charity number of the organisation you can be sure that your gift goes to where it was intended.

If you choose to let the trustees decide where your money goes, you may wish to leave instructions to help guide them as to your wishes and preferences.

What can I leave to charity in my Will?

There are several options as to what can be left to charity in your Will, and you may wish to consider what might benefit them the most. Your gift may be:

  • A cash amount
  • A specific property or asset
  • Your residuary estate or a share in your residuary estate (your residuary estate is what is left after other specified gifts, costs, and tax).

Is it possible for family members to object to a gift left to charity in my Will?

Under the Inheritance Act, you must make reasonable provision in your Will for any dependants that you have. If your Will fails to provide this, a family member can contest any charitable gift in order to obtain the financial provision which they are entitled to under the law.

Alternatively, it is possible for a family member to contest your Will if they believe that that you were under undue influence or not of sound mind when you made the gift.

Do I need to pay tax on charitable gifts in my Will?

Any gift left to a UK charity is free of inheritance tax liability. However, if you wish to make a gift to a charity outside of the UK, the situation is more complex and you should seek specialist tax and estate-planning advice in this instance. Not only are charitable gifts in the UK tax-free, but leaving gifts to charity in your Will could mitigate your tax liability overall as if you leave at least 10% of your estate to charity, the inheritance tax liability for the rest of your estate falls to 36%.

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