This week ,11 to 17 September, is Remember a Charity Week.
The annual event is an opportunity for people to think about leaving something for a good cause when they die. It’s run by Remember a Charity, an organisation that encourages gifts in Wills for charities that rely on these legacies to continue their work.
Although the Ruth Strauss Foundation isn’t one of the 200 charities represented by Remember a Charity, we can make the most of the heightened awareness the week-long event generates.
Carolyn Tyrrell-Sheppard, Head of Fundraising at the Ruth Strauss Foundation, explains.
There is a lot of chat about gifts in Wills, also known as legacies, in the charity sector at this time of year. But making your Will isn’t only important now; it’s very much about what’s happening in your life.
You might be thinking about making or updating your Will because of big life changes like marriage, since getting married invalidates a previous Will, or having children and buying property. But even without these events, if you are an independent adult then it’s a good idea to make a Will.
It can also have tax advantages, because inheritance tax is reduced for people who leave more than 10% of their estate (after deductions) to a charitable cause.
Making your Will isn’t just about ‘who gets what’. t’s about what happens to the people and things you love when you’re not there to care for them. That could be things like who looks after your dog, who cares for your children, or even who gets Auntie’s beautiful Chinese vase.
A clear Will that is properly and legally crafted will prevent lots of problems for those who are tasked with managing your estate after you are gone. And if you think you don’t have an ‘estate’ to leave, bear in mind that your estate basically means all your money and possessions, whether you own a property or not.
I’ve spent most of my working life in the charity sector. In that time, I’ve encountered some amazing people I wish I could have met who left a gift to charity in their Will.
Among the notable gifts I’ve come across are a huge model train layout, a vintage Rolls Royce, and a complete collection of rare books. These are examples of ‘specific gifts’, which means a specific item someone has left to a beneficiary.
But you can also leave a particular sum of money – called a pecuniary gift – or a percentage of your estate once everything else has been taken care of, known as a residuary gift. The most important thing when considering your Will is that those you love and care about are considered first, and that you are clear about what you want to happen once you have passed.
During my career in the charity sector, I’ve seen the transformational impact gifts in Wills have had for some wonderful causes.
I hope that in years to come, I’ll also have witnessed how gifts in Wills have helped the Ruth Strauss Foundation in its dual mission; to support families where a parent has any incurable cancer, and to influence research into non-smoking lung cancer.
If you’d like to know more about leaving a gift in your Will, there’s more information here, including an option for making your Will for free. You can also contact a local solicitor for advice and help.
Just don’t leave it until it’s too late. It’s the greatest gift you can give, and it will cost you nothing.
Carolyn Tyrrell-Sheppard is Head of Fundraising at the Ruth Strauss Foundation. She has worked in fundraising for more than 25 years and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.