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How do I leave money to charity in my Will?

View profile for Caroline Johnstone
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Having a Will is probably one of the most important things you can do to secure your family’s future, but many people are not aware that they can also leave a legacy to charity in their Will.  Around £2.5billion is raised for charities each year through legacies and while 35% of people say they want to leave a legacy, only about 6% of people actually do. 

In what form can I leave a legacy to charity in my Will?

There are a number of ways in which you can leave a charitable legacy:

  • A fixed amount of money, known as a pecuniary legacy
  • A share of what is left over of your estate once all costs are paid out, known as a residuary legacy
  • An item that you wish to donate

What do I need to include in my Will about the charity?

In order for the executor to pay the legacy to your chosen charity you will need to provide their name, registration number and registered address.  There are also a couple of clauses that need to be included; firstly a receipt clause which enables the charity to be able to accept a legacy, and secondly a merger clause.  If the charity has merged or ceased to exist in the time between you making your Will and your passing, then the merge clause will allow the executor to either pay the new charity, or another with a similar cause.

I would like to include a charity in my Will, but I already have a Will

You can still include a charity in your Will even if you have an existing one.  You can either create a new Will entirely which will void any previous Wills, or create a codicil.  A codicil is a document that can be used alongside an existing Will to show any amendments or additions.  While this can be a good option if no other Will is created in the future, there can be complications if another Will is created further down the line.  The codicil does not automatically get overruled by the new Will, and so this will need to specify that it cancels out both old Wills and codicils.

“Drawing up a Will can be a complicated process, especially if you do wish to leave legacies to charity or you have existing Wills or codicils,” explains Caroline Johnstone, Private Client Lawyer.  “It’s important that you seek legal assistance as this will not only help you ensure all your wishes are considered, but will also offer you advice on how you can avoid any issues in the future.”

If you are considering making a Will and would like to discuss your options further on leaving a charitable legacy, you can contact Caroline or a member of the Private Client team on 01329 222075 or email


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.