01 November 2015
A better investment
Alliance supporter Gordon Wright shares his thoughts on legacy-giving as the best investment we’ll ever make.
"I’m increasingly convinced that ordinary people, by leaving a legacy in their lifetime, can achieve extraordinary outcomes after their day. One does not have to be rich or famous to make a contribution that can make a difference – we can all do something amazing for God’s world by remembering our chosen Christian charities when making a will. I’m aware of charities that have said how beneficial legacies turned out to be and the donor, while alive, never actually realised how significant his or her decision would be to that particular charity.
Christians are increasingly discovering the joy of giving by various ways and means at different stages of life. This isn’t only during times of plenty, but also, interestingly, through the leaner years when giving can be much more of a sacrifice. In such situations, due to cash flow or particular commitments, it’s often makes better financial sense to consider a pledge for the future by writing it into a will or, perhaps, considering a reversionary gift, which means leaving a legacy to a person for their lifetime, after which it ‘reverts’ to the charity.
Having ensured that my family are already adequately provided for, I myself am motivated by the need to give something back, to ensure a portion of my estate is earmarked for the work of God’s kingdom, not least because my life has been touched in many ways by the Christian cause. Coming from humble beginnings, both my wife and I have been inspired by God’s grace to share the remarkable blessings that have been bestowed on us, by thinking how we might benefit others in Christian work after our day.
Most of us have our own favoured projects to support – art, the environment, health. For me, I want to help the work of the Evangelical Alliance live on after I am gone, and so I have already written the Alliance into my will, knowing that legacies are vitally important to ensuring their essential work prevails into the future. I’m also passionate about education of the poor as I know something of its real potential – where I was brought up outside of the UK, my parents weren’t able to afford the cost of my schooling, and my education wouldn’t have taken place without assistance from another family member. So I want to remember my other chosen Christian charity, Asha Society, with a legacy of hope towards their higher education programme in the slum colonies of Delhi.
One of these benefits is that a gift in one’s will to charity is free of inheritance tax, so reduces the amount of tax the executors may have to pay out in due course on the remaining assets.
I would also encourage any reader who may already have made a will to ensure it is regularly reviewed. It’s estimated that half of all existing wills may be out of date, so keep it updated or revised, especially after key occasions, such as marriage, the birth of a child or grandchild and retirement.
Over the years I’ve found that leaving a proportion of one’s estate as a gesture of generosity for charitable purposes often brings to the donor an ongoing and fulfilling inner peace during lifetime and, ultimately after their day, untold delight and benefit to the recipient charity.
I accept that a will is a sensitive and private document for many of us. However, I would suggest that a will is one of the most important documents a person ever signs, and it’s given much less significance than it should. Having worked within the financial services industry all my life I would regard it as a basic tool in personal financial planning, not least because the charitable giving component of any will has the additional potential to provide significant tax benefits.
So please give some thought to joining those Christians who have included in their will a gift to charity and invest for a different type of return – such as saving lives, educating poor children or perhaps for the Christian voice of the Alliance, impacting our society for the longer term. I doubt you will ever make a better investment."