Recent research conducted by the Cabinet Office Behavioural Insights Team showed that when solicitors told their clients that making a bequest to charity when making a will was an option, the percentage who did so rose from 5% to 10%. During the 6 month trial, an additional £1m was bequeathed to charities in wills.
Of course, whether or not to donate to charity is entirely a matter for personal choice, but it is interesting to note that whilst many of us do donate on a regular basis during our lifetimes, relatively few people think to remember the charities they have supported in their wills.
Quite apart from benefiting a favoured cause, it is worth bearing in mind that bequests to charity are free from inheritance tax. Also, if 10% or more of an estate which would otherwise be liable to inheritance tax is bequeathed to charity, this reduces the rate of inheritance tax on the non exempt part of the estate from 40% to 36%.
For those who like to maintain flexibility in terms of which charities they support, a will can bequeath a certain amount to charities identified in a separate letter of wishes. This letter can then be changed by the individual themselves on an on-going basis as their preferred charities change – without incurring the cost of making a new Will.