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Leaving it to Charity

Newsletter issue - March 2011.

If you haven't made a Will, you should do so without delay. If you don't have any relatives you want to leave your estate to, consider making a Will that leaves most of your assets to specified charities. This avoids the potential problem of intestacy (dying without a Will), and saves tax as gifts to charities are free of inheritance tax. However, there are two traps to avoid:

Identifying the charity

Many charities have merged or changed their names in the recent past, so when it comes to distributing the estate according to the Will, it may be difficult to work out exactly which charity you intended the funds to go to. To avoid this problem make sure your Will states the charity's registered office and charity number. You can also include a clause in your Will specifying that the gift should be directed to any organisation that amalgamates with the original charity.

Residue of the estate

The second problem can occur where the charity has been left an undefined amount in your Will, such as the residue of your estate. This can lead the charity's officers hassling the executors, querying deductions such as legal fees and in extreme cases challenging the distribution of your estate in Court. To avoid this problem leave specified amounts of cash or assets to your chosen charities rather than the amount left over after other gifts have been made and any tax paid.

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