There’s a remarkable statistic recently released by the Government: whilst 74% of Britons are generous enough to regularly support a charity in their lifetime only six per cent have left a gift to charity in their will.
Clearly, who you benefit in your will is entirely a matter of personal choice and no one (and certainly not the Government) should interfere with that. Yet my experience of drawing up wills for clients is that there does seem to be a gap between our generosity in life and omission of charitable gifts upon death.
Nationally, charitable gifts in wills generate around £19billion a year, which is the equivalent of 19 Comic Reliefs, two out of three guide dogs and six out of 10 lifeboat launches paid for by gifts in wills.
I have practised as a solicitor in Lancaster for nearly 20 years and over that time I have administered many estates where gifts large and small have made a difference to many national and local charities.
St John’s Hospice, Galloways Society for the Blind, The Dukes, Lancaster and District Homeless Action, CancerCare, Animal Care, Lancaster and District YMCA and Age UK (Lancashire) are just some examples of charities operating locally who make a significant contribution to the wellbeing of our district.
All those I have mentioned and others rely on local volunteers and donations to keep going. We would all be poorer without them.
So if you feel passionately about a charity which is local, national or international, why not give some thought to remembering your commitment to that charity in your lifetime by way of leaving a gift in your will?
You may have family and friends who you would like to inherit the lion’s share of your estate or you may wish it all to go to charity. It’s your choice, but if you do not leave a valid will, your choices, your wishes, will not be implemented.
For most people making a will is not expensive. It will likely cost a couple of hundred pounds which is a small price to pay for peace of mind. And if the value of your assets is such that Inheritance Tax is a concern then remember that gifts to registered charities are exempt from tax.