12 September 2019 | Comment | Article by Roman Kubiak TEP

Remember A Charity Week | Myth #4 - My family will be unhappy if I leave a legacy to charity in my will, and may contest it

I’ve been on “both sides of the fence”, acting both for those contesting wills or claiming greater financial provision from an estate which leaves legacies to charity, as well as for the charities defending these claims.

With inheritance disputes making the papers on an almost daily basis, many are now thinking more carefully about their wills. That’s obviously a good thing but can lead to “paralysis by analysis”.

According to the Charities Aid Foundation, we’re one of the most generous countries in the world, something of which we should be immensely proud. A huge number of charities, large and small, now rely on legacies to continue offering their valuable services, locally, nationally and globally.

“Gifts in Wills are incredibly important to UK charities; without this income charities would have to cut services and many would simply not exist,” explains Rob Cope, Director at Remember a Charity. “Two out of three guide dogs and six out of ten life boat launches are paid for by gifts in Wills, as is over a third of Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work.” 

In my experience, rarely, has the fact that a person has left a legacy to charity been the cause of any will or inheritance dispute. More often than not, there’s some underlying concern or cause which has prompted a claim and the fact that a charity has been named has been irrelevant to that concern or cause.

The most common grounds that I see for people challenging wills or inheritances are:

In those cases, I suspect most people would say that it’s right that steps are taken to ensure that any will really does reflect a person’s true wishes.

A professionally drawn-up will can help to avoid these claims by ensuring that your wishes are reflected in a way which not only supports the causes most important to you but also provides for your loved ones while potentially making use of the tax benefits available when leaving legacies to charity.


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