11 September 2019 | Comment | Article by Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu

Remember A Charity Week | Myth #3 - It’s not worth leaving a legacy if it’s only a small amount

I occasionally hear such comments, whether at work, home or even in the pub. It is testament to the fact that discussing legacy giving, and by extension, one's own mortality, is no longer the taboo topic it once was. Perhaps reflective of the more open and discursive society we now live in, speaking with legacy professionals in the charitable sector, this is one of the single most important factors behind, both the increase in legacy giving, but also the key to its continued growth. However, by now importing a quantitative element to legacy giving, does it risk undoing all of the positive steps taken over the last few decades?

On one side of the coin, it goes without saying that voluntary income for charities is paramount, whether received by way of a legacy in a will, or through more traditional fundraising methods. Put simply, without that income, irrespective of the size and value, it will naturally hinder a charity's ability to achieve their aims.

It has been well documented that legacy giving has steadily increased over the past ten years, accounting for nearly £3 billion in 2018. Speaking from a Welsh perspective, recent research by Remember a Charity has highlighted that Wales has achieved a 35% increase in legacy income growth, the fastest of all the home nations between 2007 and 2017.

Legacy giving, though, is not just about the pounds and pence. To many it is more than leaving a monetary sum but actually about supporting a cause close to the heart, saying "thank you" or taking advantage of tax breaks, amongst the wide variety of reasons. Put simply, the drivers can vary but the outcome is invariably the same: it allows charities to continue doing what they do best.

On the other side of the coin, as with all legacies left to charities, the charity may have to incur some administrative cost dealing with them. While the smallest of legacies can, in certain circumstances, be cost neutral, or even place a small cost burden on charity, much will depend on a charity's model and ability to efficiently process such gifts. If this is a major factor preventing a prospective legacy to be left, the sensible step is to seek more information from the charity itself.

On balance, approaching legacy giving with a mind-set that it is not worth leaving a small legacy, could potentially endanger the very essence of legacy giving. If all prospective people looking to prepare a will adopted such rationale, legacy income, the lifeblood for many charities, could dry up and therefore hinder their ability to effectively achieve their charitable aims.

Rob Cope, director at Remember a Charity has neatly explained, perhaps with one eye firmly on the Great British Bake Off - "Think of your will as a cake. Once you've taken care of your family and friends, please consider leaving a small slice to your favourite charities. Even a small amount can make the most enormous difference".


Remember a charity week | 9 to 15 September 2019

Remember A Charity Week is an opportunity for charities and supporters to come together and raise awareness about leaving gifts in wills to charities, after taking care of family and loved ones. Hugh James is proud to support the week which this year focuses on debunking some common myths around legacy giving. As part of that we are publishing a series of blogs demystifying common myths around charity legacy giving. Follow @HughJamesLegal on Twitter to keep up to date with all our blogs.

For this year’s theme, Remember a Charity are using nostalgia and humour to address some common misconceptions associated with legacy giving to show that it’s something everyone can do. They have created a series of comedy films inspired by a classic TV show from the 1970s, which are available to watch on their YouTube channel here.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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