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Charities and Wills

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

According to research, the number of charities benefiting from donations in Wills has continued to rise.

However, the relationship between charities and Wills can cause problems, if, for example, you decide you want to contest a charity donation in a Will.

Here, we look at charities and Wills and how the system works.

Can You Contest a Charity Donation in a Will?

There are various grounds on which you can challenge a charity donation in a Will.

  • Is the execution of the Will valid? It must be in writing and signed in the presence of two witnesses, who must then sign it in the presence of the person making the Will.
  • Did the deceased person have knowledge of the Will’s contents, and did they approve it?
  • Did they have the necessary mental capacity to make the Will?
  • Were they under undue influence?
  • Is the Will genuine, or is it fraudulent or forged?

If you believe that a Will leaving a donation to charity may be invalid for any of these reasons then you can make a challenge to the whole Will.

A further reason for challenging a charity donation in a Will is if you feel that you should have been provided for and you have not been. This type of challenge comes under the Inheritance (Provision for Families and Dependents) Act 1975.

But you can definitely contest a charity donation in a will if you think this has happened. It is not wrong to contest a will, just because it is making a charity donation.

The first step to doing this is to make sure you get good legal advice.

What To Do When you want to challenge a Will that gives to Charity

Contesting a donation to charity requires a specialist legal approach because it is about proving one, or more, of the conditions that would make the Will open to challenge or showing that reasonable provision should have been made for you and that has not happened.

It is not simply a case of you disapproving of the donation to charity.

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 provides details about who can and cannot bring a claim for reasonable provision from an Estate. You can legally challenge a Will if:

  •  You are the surviving spouse, even if you were separate at the time of the death
  • You lived with the deceased for at least two years prior to the death
  • You are a child of the deceased, or treated by them as their own child
  • You relied on the deceased financially

If you think that you should have been provided for in a Will and you have not been then it will be necessary to show what your financial needs are, and why you should have been left something in the Will.

Expert legal advice will be needed to help put the claim together and to liaise with the beneficiaries of the Will to see whether your claim can be agreed without the need to go to Court.

Can You Leave Everything to Charity?

Normally, there are two ways of leaving a donation to charity. Either you specify a named charity in your Will as a beneficiary, or, you let your trustees decide.

This donation is normally in the form of:

  • A cash sum
  • A specified asset or property
  • A share of your residuary estate, or all of it.

If you leave something to charity, this can reduce the amount of tax paid by the rest of your estate, which then benefits your family if they stand to inherit.

There is nothing to stop you leaving your entire estate to a charity legally. However, if you do have family or dependents you should be very clear about your reasons for leaving them out of your Will if you decide to do that.

It is also advisable to tell your family your reasons so that the terms of the Will do not come as a shock to them.

For more details about will making talk to your solicitor, or call us on 0800 088 6004. Alternatively fill in our online contact form, and we will be in touch as soon as possible.