Leaving a Charitable Bequest in your Will

If you are able and willing, you can leave a charitable donation in your Will. The pandemic has made people especially generous towards mental health and animal charities, along with Cancer Research and British Heart Foundation. Despite the financial hardship many have faced, it seems as though the public are keen to give back.

Reasons to add a charitable donation to your Will.

Choosing your charity is a personal choice. Maybe the charity has directly impacted you personally, or a charity is special to the family.

Charities depend on donations, as they account for a significant portion of their annual income, with most of their staff working on a voluntary basis. According to the Charities Aid Foundation, approximately £10 billion is gifted each year. Almost a third of that comes from Legacies. In 2019 almost £3 billion was gifted to charities, and this figure continues to rise.

Your money goes towards research, fundraising efforts, but also keeping the electricity running in the shops! Due to a demand for transparency, technology has stepped in. Donor Apps such as Blockchain allow families to track a loved one’s gift and to see how the money is being used. Charities such as Save the Children and St Mungo’s have joined the app. This may be meaningful to loved ones to see the good that your donation brings.

Such good deeds are rewarded legally. Charitable Legacies cannot be taxed, and by leaving a 10% donation in your Will, your inheritance tax bill can be discounted by securing the lower tax rate. Another incentive for your generosity could be free assistance writing your Will. Many legal firms, such as Watermans, will offer a free Will writing service in exchange for a donation to charity during September and November. In July 2020 Watermans’ staff in Edinburgh raised over ¬£3,000 for charity after volunteering their expertise and collecting donations in exchange for Will writing.

Ways to donate to charity after your death:

  • You can leave a specific item of value, such as a property or stocks and shares.
  • Through Gift Aid, for every ¬£1 you donate, they will contribute an extra 25p.
  • You can leave a set amount of money to a specific charity
  • You can leave the residual funds of the estate. Once everything else has been paid and accounted for, the rest can be donated.
  • Your trustees can choose a charity on your behalf


Some generous individuals leave everything to a charity; their assets, property, and money left after their death. However, in Scotland the law has more reserved attitudes to such generosities, ensuring that dependents and relatives are taken care of first before a set quota is set aside for charity.

Make sure that you talk through your wishes for donation with your family; if not, the surprise may not always be welcome, and they could challenge the decision in court. To avoid this, write a letter to back up your decision and enforce why the charity is so important to you. Without a will, Scots Law dictates how your money is spent. Therefore, without a will, charities will not benefit.

Tip: Advise what you want your donation to be used for, such as for research or funding, and always seek legal advice.

To get advice for your charitable donation, speak to our team on 0131 555 7055.

(For more information, please see www.willaid.org.uk during the month of November and www.nationalfreewills.net which provides a similar service.)