Charity Legacy Disputes

Author:
John Lambe
Contentious Probate Solicitor
Date:
07/09/2020

Charities have seen a surge in the amount of charitable gifts being left in Wills during the Coronavirus pandemic. This comes as welcome news to charities that have struggled financially this year, but leaving money to a charity can also sadly cause disputes between family members.

If you’re worried about a dispute over a charitable legacy in your Will, it’s best to get legal advice. Our Contentious Probate Solicitors offer free initial legal advice and can often deal with Will and charity legacy dispute cases on a No Win, No Fee basis – ask us for details.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

There are many reasons why you may choose to leave a legacy to a charity in your Will. It may be:

  • To aid a cause you’re passionate about
  • To support a particular charity that has helped you or your family during a difficult time, such as a terminal illness
  • To reduce the Inheritance Tax to be paid by the rest of your Estate

What is a Charitable Legacy?

Put simply, a charitable legacy is a gift left to a charity or charities in a person’s Will, such as:

  • A sum of cash
  • An item or property
  • A share of the Estate (what’s left after other gifts have been given to family)

When leaving a gift to a charity when you make a Will, you can either name a specific charity or charities you want to support. Alternatively, you can leave it up to the Trustees of your Will to decide. Either way, it’s important to outline your wishes clearly in your Will.

If you can, discuss your wishes directly with the charity so you can check that your donation is possible. Sometimes charities have to refuse gifts left in Wills because they can’t meet the conditions, so it’s best to find out what your options are early on. A Contentious Probate Solicitor can advise you on this.  

Charity Donations and Inheritance Tax

Any donations made to UK charities in a Will are free from Inheritance Tax.

This means that leaving a gift or money to a charity in your Will can actually benefit your family in the long run, as it reduces the amount of Inheritance Tax paid by the rest of your Estate (the sum of your assets) after you die.

The Inheritance Tax threshold in England and Wales is £325,000. If you give 10% or more of your Estate to charity, this cuts the Inheritance Tax rate from 40% to 36% on the rest of your Estate. So including a charitable donation in your Will can help your family and your chosen charities too.

Can a Family Member Contest a Donation in My Will?

Yes, family members can contest a charitable donation in a Will if they’re not getting what they’re entitled to.

This is because of the Inheritance Act which states that your Will must provide your financial dependents (such as children) with reasonable inheritance. If you don’t, then family members can contest your charity donation to get the money they’re legally entitled to.

A Family member can also contest your Will if they believe you were under undue influence when making your Will. This could cause your entire Will to become invalid if they’re successful. However, you can still make a charitable donation, but it’s important to make sure that you’re providing enough financially for your family too.

Can I Leave All My Money to Charity?

Yes, as long as you have no financial dependents to reasonably provide for, you can leave all your money to charity if you wish to do so. We would advise that you get a Solicitor drafted Will to ensure that everything goes to your chosen charities without any issues.

Dealing with a Will Dispute

We understand that a Will dispute is a sensitive and complicated issue. Our Contentious Probate Solicitors are experts in dealing with Will disputes and contenting Wills. We will always aim to reach the best possible outcome for you and your family.

If you’re the one making the Will and you’re worried about your family contesting it, we can go through your Will with you to prevent a dispute taking place later down the line.  

We can also help if you’re a family member of the deceased and you want to contest their Will. If the deceased has not provided for you financially when they should have done, we can help you get the inheritance you’re entitled to.

How Much Does a Will Dispute Cost?

The cost varies depending on the complexity of your case and whether or not you have to go to Court.

It’s much more cost-effective for you to try to come to an agreement together first. One of our specialist Solicitors can help you do this. We have a proven track record of resolving most Will disputes without going to Court. This makes the process much quicker and less costly for you, so it’s best to get legal advice as soon as possible.

Whatever your situation, we can help you starting with free initial legal advice. Our Contentious Probate Solicitors will always be transparent about any legal fees, so you know exactly what’s included.

For free legal advice call our Contentious Probate Solicitors

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