The generous generation: Co-op reveals increase in the value of legacies left to charity in wills

Last Updated on: 22nd November 2023, 07:48 pm

Co-op Legal Services is urging the nation, and will providers, to take action as national Remember A Charity in your Will Week 2018 commences (10th – 16th September).

The business recently conducted the UK’s biggest ever survey into death, dying and bereavement, speaking to over 30,000 people about life planning. The findings uncovered that a huge 68%¹ of UK adults have not yet written a will. However, amongst those who have put provisions in place Co-op’s latest business data reveals that the financial value of gifts being left to charity has increased by over 30%² in the last 12 months.

Gifts left in wills are vital to charities, with Cancer Research UK stating it remains its single biggest source of fundraising income³. Co-op is encouraging UK adults to consider this when recording their final wishes, by offering a discount of up to 20%⁴ off their will writing services through their partnership with the 200-strong charity consortium, Remember A Charity.

Co-op’s business data, based on thousands of wills, highlights that whilst its clients are leaving gifts most frequently to charities that tackle cancer, animal charities are continuing to rise in popularity, with almost a quarter (23%⁵) of all legacy gifts being given to them. This has risen by almost 10% in the last 12 months.

As well as donating to make a difference with medical advancements, people are also wanting to give back to their communities and local causes, with a tenth (11%) of legacy gifts having been pledged to these this year.

Full break down of the charity categories Co-op’s clients have chosen to leave gifts to are as follows:

  • Cancer charities
  • Animal charities
  • Poverty and homelessness
  • Local causes / community
  • International charities
  • Hospices
  • Children’s charities
  • Rescue organisations
  • Religious causes
  • Help for the elderly

However, Co-op’s business data reveals that it isn’t just money that’s left to charity, people also choose to give more personal items to charitable causes. Generous supporters have left a range of interesting items to charities of their choice, including houses, land, paintings and music collections.

James Antoniou, Head of Wills for Co-op Legal Services said: ‘’There is certainly still a desire for clients to leave charitable gifts of all types in wills, for a variety of personal reasons and this is something that the charities heavily rely on. We work with a number of large and smaller charities offering affordable will writing services to their supporters to make this possible.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Remember A Charity for the sixth year running, as we continue to progress with our shared aim to make will writing and considering leaving a gift to charity the social norm.”

Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, commented: “It’s great to see that Co-op Legal Services is continuing to support our campaign, driving legacy giving forward on behalf of our charities. Gifts in Wills – whether financial or not – are the lifeblood of so many vital services that are provided by charities all over the UK.

‘’We hope this year’s Remember A Charity Week will encourage people across the UK to consider how they can pass on something wonderful and to make a real impact. If everyone left just a small amount to good causes, once they’ve taken care of loved ones, it could make an enormous difference for future generations.”

Top 5 things people need to know when leaving a gift to charity in a will, according to Co-op’s Head of Wills James Antoniou:

1. What should you consider when choosing a charity?

“There are no set rules to follow when choosing which charity or charities a person would like to benefit in their will. Typically though, people are either passionate about a particular cause or they have been impacted either directly or indirectly in some way by the charity’’

2. Are consumers taxed on the money they leave to charity?

“Generally speaking, a gift to charity in someone’s will is exempt from Inheritance Tax. However, anyone considering doing it needs to ensure that the charity is a qualifying charity. This can be confirmed by asking the charity for their tax exempt reference number.’’

3. Is it just money that can be left to charity or can other personal belongings be left instead?

“It’s possible to leave anything that’s in a person’s estate to a charity including their property, land, shares or a specific item such as an item of jewellery or a piece of art for example. If you would like the charity to use the inheritance for a particular purpose then you should discuss this with them in advance to make sure it’s feasible.’’

4. How many charities can someone leave a gift to?

“There isn’t a limit on the number of charities a person can leave a gift in their will to. However it is important to consider which items or the amount of money they would like to give to each charity.’’

5. Is there a set list of charities which people need to choose from?

“Anyone thinking about leaving a gift to charity in their will can visit the Charity Commission’s website for a full list of all charities registered in England and Wales.’’

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