Grace Steele, director of Wills & Probate, simplifies the process of leaving a gift in your will. Alongside colleague Rose Woodward, she answers some frequently asked questions and explains why the process need not be so complicated.

The decision to leave a gift (a legacy) in your will to a loved one or a charity close to your heart is a very important one. Legally, you are free to distribute your estate (everything you own) however you wish. This can include leaving legacies to certain people, organisations, or charities. 

1. Why should I leave a legacy? 

If you wish to leave a legacy, it must be set out clearly in a will. This makes it legally binding and will ensure your wishes are followed. Unfortunately, all too often people do not specify legacies in their will, or indeed do not write a will at all. As a result there is no guarantee that the people or organisations you had hoped would benefit from your estate will receive anything from you. 


2. Do I have to choose just one recipient or charity? 

You can leave as many legacies as you like in your will. We would advise that you start by thinking about how much you wish to leave and to whom. There is no limit to the number of legacies you can make, and you can leave different amounts to different people or organisations. 

If you wish to leave multiple legacies to charity, but you are unsure which, you can leave an amount of money or a property in a Trust for your Trustees to distribute in line with your wishes. You can leave your Trustees a letter of wishes outlining any preferred beneficiaries and the amount they should receive. This letter can be updated over the years at any time without having to amend your will. 

3. Does it have to be a monetary gift?
A legacy doesn’t have to be a cash gift. For example, it could be a property. I am aware of a gentleman who generously gifted his house to his local church who, after his death, were able to use the property as accommodation for families in need.

4. What if there is a change in my circumstances? 

Everyone’s financial circumstances change over time, and so may your personal views or connections with certain organisations. Therefore, we recommended you regularly review your legacies to ensure they are up to date and reflect your current wishes. You could do this at the same time as your will, which we advise you do every three to five years. 

5. Will my gift be taxed? 

Any legacies left to individuals may be subject to inheritance tax depending on your circumstances. Currently, inheritance tax is charged at 40%, however, legacies made to a registered charity are not subject to inheritance tax at all. This means that if you have a high value estate and you leave the entire estate to charity, no inheritance tax will be charged. Many people are also unaware that if you leave 10% of your estate to a registered charity, then doing so will reduce the rate of inheritance tax from 40% to 36%. This will benefit any individuals who are inheriting from your will. 

If you are unsure whether your intended legacy is subject to inheritance tax, our specialist team of lawyers can help advise you. 

Leaving a legacy is a special way of making a positive and genuine impact on a charity or in the life of a loved one.

If you would like to leave a gift in your will to the Evangelical Alliance or to find out more about our free will service, please visit eauk​.org/​l​e​g​acies or contact our head of giving, Wendy Pawsey on 020 7520 3856

Leave a gift in your will

Leave a gift in your will

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