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How to leave a bequest – continue giving, as you already do, everyday

We give so naturally, as part of our daily lives, that it barely rates a mention. We help family, friends and colleagues by listening and giving advice, we loan books and tools, cook for each other and help each other out with our work and projects.

This giving doesn’t have to stop. You can keep giving and leave a legacy even after you have passed away by leaving a bequest in your will.

What is a bequest?

A bequest is a gift that you give to charity after you have died. The gift may be money or property and it is formally recognised and administered via your will.

Who leaves bequests?

You don’t have to be a specific ‘type’ of person to leave a bequest. It doesn’t matter how much you have to give, whether or not you’ve been associated with a charity in the past, or whether your family and community have a history of leaving bequests. Anyone can decide to leave a bequest at any stage of life.

 

There are many reasons for leaving a bequest:

  • You may want to support a hospital, school or charity that has been instrumental in your life whether providing health or social support.
  • There may be a cause that you care about and want to help advance, locally or internationally.
  • You may be concerned about what life will be like for your children in the future and support an organisation that helps improve the state of the world, whether environmentally, politically or socially.
  • You may be impressed by the work and integrity of an organisation and want to support it.
  • There may be a particular area of research that you’re interested and would like to contribute to.
  • Or you may just want to have a final say about your estate, your values and what is important to you, and have an ongoing influence on the things that you’ve cared about.

Determine what you would like to leave

Throughout your life, you may have saved and invested money and bought property and items that are valuable assets. You can leave these to people you care about to help them, and you can also leave a portion to charity.

 

You have options and can decide whether you want to leave:

  • Specific assets and amounts of money
  • A percentage of your entire estate
  • A percentage of the “residue” of your estate, which is a percentage of what is left over after your money and assets have been allocated to other expenses such as taxes and funeral costs and gifts that you may give to family, friends and your community

 

It may take time for you to decide how much you’d like to leave. There’s no rush. Talk about it with family, friends and people you trust. It’s important to be both comfortable and confident about who you are supporting and what you are leaving.

Choose who you would like to leave your bequest to

There are so many registered charities and non-government organisations that could benefit from a bequest, including national and international bodies.

Choosing a charity or organisation may be as simple as continuing to give to a charity you are already supporting or selecting the one that has had the greatest impact in your life.

You may have a particular health, social, political or environmental issue that you value and want to promote and support. Also, there may be a particular country or recent crisis that you would like to direct your money to.

 

There are websites that list charities, including those listed below

(For many of these websites, the charities need to pay to be listed, so they may not include all charities.)

You may call charities that you’re interested in and talk to them about their work and your bequest. Talking to the charities themselves may help you make your decision.

Write your bequest into your will

If you don’t have a will, you’ll need to create one and if you have one, you can update it to include your bequest.

The main considerations for your will are:

  • Details: You will need the charity’s legally registered name and address and to know what you are leaving the charity
  • Use of your bequest: You can define what your money and property are used for, however, it is better for the charities if you don’t do this. This will ensure that the charities can use the money as effectively as possible to support their programs and goals
  • Wording: Charities often provide suggested wording for your will on their websites so it is beneficial to call them or check their websites before creating or updating your will


A few of charities that have included bequest information on their websites are:

Consider letting the charity know

It can be beneficial to call the charity and let them know that you will be including them in your will. This helps the charity plan and also offers them the chance to thank you for your support.

 


Related articles on The Last Post

Visit the “How to organise a funeral” series for related articles.

 

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