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Q&A: Wills and estate planning

Q.  I am a keen supporter of a number of charities, and I’d like to make sure part of my estate can go to these good causes. Is there a way to leave money to charities through a Will?

A.  By Kathryn Harwood, Partner and Head of Wills & Estate Planning  

Leaving money to good causes in Wills is becoming increasingly popular, and at Napthens we are helping people to do just that.

Recent research 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 per cent to 10 per cent. Over six months, an additional £1m was bequeathed to charities in Wills.

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.

It is clear you have made this decision because you care deeply for the charities that you support. However it is worth bearing in mind that bequests to charity are also free from inheritance tax.

Furthermore, if 10 per cent 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 per cent to 36 per cent, often a significant saving.

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. If your favoured charities were to change, or you wished to add a further good cause into your Will, this would be a simple, stress-free way to do it.