Can I Leave Everything To Charity In My Will?
Posted on 21st July 2020
When our team of Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Solicitors draft Wills, many people will consider leaving a gift to charity or, if they feel that they do not want anyone else to benefit from their Estate, their whole Estate to a charity or charities after they have died. Where a charity holds particular importance to you, or you feel that your relatives are sufficiently provided for, you may wish to consider befitting your beloved charity.
In many countries, under the Law, you must reserve a certain quota of your Estate for certain relatives. As our local solicitors for Wills are expert Will drafters for England and Wales, for advice on Scottish Wills, you can find some more information on citizensadvice.org.uk or by contacting a Scottish legal practitioner.
Fortunately, in England and Wales, if you wish to completely exclude certain relatives, this may be a possibility; you can read more about excluding a relative, here. Our Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Solicitors would explain that whilst it is possible to leave everything to a charity or charities without making provisions for your relatives, if they are financially dependent on you and you do not leave them anything, they may be able to make a claim against your Estate.
If you intend to leave your entire Estate to charities instead of your loved ones, you may find that you want to make them aware of your decision; perhaps via a note that you place with your Will, explaining your thought process. That way, it could save disputes and arguments after you have died. We would point out, though, that you are not obliged to share information about the contents of your Will with anyone, even your family, and you should only do so if you feel that you want to.
How to avoid disputes about your Estate
Our local solicitors for Wills would always advise that you seek advice from expert Will drafters before making a Will. Whilst your Estate may seem simple and you think that your Will is so straightforward that you can DIY it, this is never a good idea; there are so many pitfalls to be aware of when drafting your own Will. Instead, it is simpler to seek legal advice and make sure that your Estate passes to who you want it to when you have died.
If you are thinking about drafting your own Will, you should especially consider seeking legal advice when you are not including your family members. This way, your expert local solicitors for Wills can ensure that you have done everything possible to prevent any claim from being made against your Estate.
Our Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Solicitors would suggest also doing the following:-
1. Explain to your family why you are leaving everything to charity, instead of to them.
2. Write a letter to your family, which can be placed with your Will, outlining your reasons and why you have chosen the specific charity or charities.
3. Obtain a GP’s Certificate which confirms that you were of sound mind when you made the Will, to prevent someone saying that you did not have capacity when you made your Will.
4. Discuss your intentions with our local solicitors for Wills, who will make a note of your full discussions and the reasons that you are excluding your family.
If there is ever any doubt about why a family member has been excluded, it may be that the solicitors who drafted the Will are asked to confirm the discussions had with the person who made the Will.
Making a Decision about which charity to choose
Unfortunately, not all charities are around forever. That is why, when you are making your Will, it is important to consider including substitute provisions for what is to happen if your chosen charity has been wound up, or has merged with another one by the time you have died. You may decide to name a backup, or even two back-ups. Alternatively, you may decide that you want to include a general direction allowing your Trustees to choose a similar charity. You can read more about Trustees in our Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Solicitors’ blog, here.
When deciding which charity to include in your Will, you should choose one who you think will benefit from your gift, and who, perhaps, you feel is the most deserving of your money and kind donation.
Get Legal Advice
As explained, everyone should consider making a Will, and everybody who is considering making a Will should seek legal advice from a professional local solicitor for Wills before finalising their Will. Quite often, making a Will with a legal professional is not as expensive as many people would think and it could, in the long run, save your family and loved one’s trouble once you have passed away.
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