There are many reasons to write a Will, but one area that’s not really touched upon is the power of your Will to make a difference to the World. Most of us feel that we do not do enough for charities on a day to day basis but a Will is one of the most powerful tools for helping people and organizations in need. The common term for this is “planned giving”.
We’ve all heard the story of the elderly widow, with no family, who left their wealth to a local cats’ home. Most Wills have sections for specific gifts which allows you to name a sum of money (a “pecuniary legacy”) for a specific beneficiary. This really gives you an opportunity to be more generous than you may have been during your lifetime and for many modest estates, a £5,000 legacy can be comfortably absorbed.
To start with, you have to choose the appropriate charity. For some people there may be a particular cause that touched their lives, but it is always worthwhile to conduct a little research into the effectiveness of charities and how much of your donation ends up making a difference. There are plenty of resources available to help with your research. In the UK we have the government-run Charity Commission.
Once you have decided on the charity, you have to make sure that you name it in an unambiguous way in your Will. Leaving a bequest to “cancer” does not give your Executor enough information to distribute the legacy (although the terms in the Will usually allow them to make their best effort in this case). You should include the registered number of the charity which could either be found on the relevant website or with a government agency.
If you have been struggling to think of a reason why you would need to create a Will, then maybe the opportunity to make a difference in the World is just the reason that you need?