Leaving a gift in your will; give a little, gain a lot

Ann was offered help and support over the phone by Age UK

In our last blog, we took a closer look at how the money raise by Will Aid helps the charities involved. Here Will Aid campaign director Peter de Vena Franks explains how leaving a gift in your will to causes close to your heart can make a huge difference – to the charities, to you and to the rest of your beneficiaries.


The countdown to Christmas has begun and many of us have started writing a shopping list.

Buying gifts is one of the most enjoyable parts of the festive season – and for good reason.

After all, new studies have found that the warm, fuzzy feeling we get when we buy presents significantly boosts our mental health.

Researchers also found that altruistic behavior, such as donating to charity, has a similar effect, activating regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. This is why that “warm glow” effect is also known as the “helper’s high.”


Give a little, gain a lot

There is no better way to support causes close to your heart than by leaving a gift to charity in your will.

Not only does it give you the helper’s high, but leaving a charitable legacy can make vital and long-lasting change happen for many vulnerable people worldwide.

It’s a really rewarding thing to do after you have provided for your loved one but what’s more, giving a little can result in better financial gains for your other beneficiaries.


One good turn deserves another

The current inheritance tax threshold is £325,000 per person (£650,000 per married couple) meaning that if your estate exceeds this figure the excess is very likely to be taxed at 40%.  

Any property that passes to your spouse or to charity usually passes tax-free. 

If you have left 10% or more of your taxable estate to charity, the inheritance tax charge on the rest of your estate is reduced to 36%.

This can mean, in certain situations, that if you increase what you plan to leave to charities, your other beneficiaries actually receive more. 

A Will Aid solicitor can advise you on the most tax efficient way to approach this.


Your gift in action 

Age UK uses charitable gifts to help millions of elderly people who need support.

One of these is Ann who is 81 and has lived alone in her one-bedroom flat since her husband passed away.

After a series of hip operations, she was a lot less mobile – and the few friends she had left were no longer well enough to visit her.

She remembered a time when her phone rang every day, when there were days out and lunches circled on her calendar – when she always had something to look forward to.

She missed having someone to ask how she was, and the comfort of a real smiling, friendly face.

Thankfully, things changed for Ann when she made a call to the Age UK Advice line.

She was offered help and support over the phone and was then directed to our befriending service and provided with regular companionship.

Now Ann has something to look forward to every week.

A gift in your will could help a charity like Age UK be there for someone who has no one else to turn to.


Leave a legacy 

Money left in a will to charity, or a 'charitable legacy' is a really important source of charity funding. Perhaps it’s a charity you’ve supported all your life, or one you feel does exceptionally good work for a cause you believe in, or one that’s helped change the life of someone you know.


It’s really easy to leave a gift to charity in your will.

There are three types of legacies, depending whether you want to leave a physical item or a cash gift: pecuniary, specific, and residuary. 

  • Pecuniary

A pecuniary gift is a cash amount, so you state in your will that you wish to leave £X to a particular charity. The executor of the estate is in charge of ensuring this sum gets to your charity of choice. 

  • Specific

This is when you leave a particular item, such as property or shares. So, you could, for example, leave £X worth of individual shares to charity. 

  • Residuary

This is when you leave the whole, or share of what’s left to charity once everything else has been paid such as gifts, taxes, debts and costs.