Leaving gifts to charity in your will


7 September 2021

By Marc Dorsett

The International Day of Charity takes place annually on 5 September, but did you know that one of the best ways to support a charity is to leave them a gift in your will? Many charities in the UK rely on donations left behind by their supporters, and any gift you leave could make a vital difference to the work of the organisation. There are many benefits to leaving money to a charity for your estate, including tax relief. In this article, we look at some of the most common questions people have about leaving money to charity in their will.

How can I leave money to charity in my will?

If you wish to leave money to charity there are three main ways in which to do so.

The first option is to, very simply; leave a specified sum of money to your chosen charity. Alternatively, you can leave a specific item or asset, such as a house to a charity. Finally, you can name a charity as a Residuary Beneficiary of your estate (your residuary estate is everything that is left after all gifts and estate liabilities have been deducted).

Where you choose to name a specific charity, it is always best to include the charity number. Many charities have quite similar names, or the name of the charity may change, and you want to be sure your gift goes to where it was intended.

What can I leave to charity in my will?

There are a number of options to consider when making a gift to a charity. Your gift may be:

  • A cash amount
  • A specific asset or item
  • A share in your residuary estate, or
  • Your entire residuary estate

Is it possible for family members to object to a gift left to charity in my will?

An individual is entitled to dispose of their estate as they see fit. Under the Inheritance Act 1975, where there is judged to be a failure to make reasonable provisions for dependants a claim may be made that contests the charitable gift.

A charitable gift can also be contested if a Will is proven to be invalid.

Do I need to pay tax on charitable gifts in my will?

Any gift left to a UK charity is free of inheritance tax liability. However, if you wish to make a gift to a charity outside the UK, the situation is more complex. Not only are charitable gifts tax-free but leaving gifts to charity in your will could mitigate your tax liability overall. When you leave at least 10% of your estate to charity, the inheritance tax liability of the rest of your estate falls to 36%.

If you would like to know more about leaving a gift in your will, please contact our Private Client department on 01245 228125 or PrivateClientEnq@gepp.co.uk to arrange an appointment with me.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.