Wills, money and death are three topics nobody likes to think about or discuss - particularly in this combination. However, if you are thinking of leaving a gift to Wooden Spoon in your will, you may have questions we can answer.
Why should I bother making a will?
If you don't leave a will, your estate will be shared out among your next of kin according to a strict order of priority called the 'rules of intestacy'. This means that people you want to benefit from your estate - such as a partner you're not married to or in a registered civil partnership with - might get nothing. The rules are different in Scotland. Making a will is the first step to making sure that your estate is shared out exactly as you want when you die.
Can I add Spoon to my existing will?
If you already have a will, it is important that you keep it up to date. Fortunately, making changes to an existing will is very straightforward. If you want to add Wooden Spoon to an existing will, your solicitor simply attaches a written instruction, called a codicil. This must be done by your solicitor - don't make changes yourself as you may inadvertently invalidate your will. The codicil will need the signature of two independent witnesses. Suggested wording for such a codicil can be found by clicking here.
Do I have enough to leave a legacy?
A common misconception is that a legacy has to be an enormous sum of money. This is not the case. Any gift left in a will, no matter how large or how small, is important to the charities you support.
Pecuniary or a residuary legacy?
The two main types of legacies that people leave are: residuary and pecuniary. A residuary legacy is when a person leaves a percentage of their estate to a charity. This means that, however much your estate is ultimately worth, you ensure your loved ones are looked after as well as giving a gift to your chosen charity. It also means you don't have to keep altering your will as your circumstances change. A pecuniary legacy is a set sum of money. However, we advise that you consult your solicitor on what is best for your particular circumstances.
What about inheritance tax?
Inheritance Tax is usually paid on an estate when somebody dies. It's also sometimes payable on trusts or gifts made during someone's lifetime. Most estates don't have to pay Inheritance Tax because they're valued at less than the threshold (£325,000 in 2011-12). Each individual's tax situation is different, and we always recommend consulting with your solicitor when making any changes to your will. For more information regarding the changes to inheritance tax, please go to www.hmrc.gov.uk/cto/iht.htm
If I don't want to leave a gift in my will is there anything else I can do to ensure some money comes to Spoon after I die?
Another way of donating to the charity without leaving a money gift in a will is to request donations to Wooden Spoon in lieu of flowers at your funeral. This is a popular way of sharing your passion and support for a charity with your friends and family. Your friends and family could also create an In Memory page on the JustGiving website. Creating a fundraising page in memory of someone is a powerful way for friends and family to honour them by donating to a cause they cared about. The following link will take you to Just Giving's step-by-step advice on how to do this: https://justgiving.zendesk.com/entries/21018846-how-do-i-create-a-page-in-memory-of-someone
If you decide to leave Wooden Spoon a gift in your will, we will do our utmost to ensure the money is directed according to your wishes. If you would like to discuss any aspect of leaving a gift to the charity in your will, please call Karen in confidence on 01252 773720.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Spoonews Autumn 2011
Q: I didn't realise that Wooden Spoon is interested in receiving legacies! There isn't much mention made about this topic in Spoonews, so I hadn't thought the charity would accept a legacy. Why haven't you made this clearer before now?
A: We realise that legacies are a sensitive, almost taboo, subject and are difficult to talk about easily. Perhaps we haven't been very good in the past at informing our members and supporters about leaving gifts in wills but we are trying to rectify this gradually. Other charities consider legacies as simply another form of fundraising but we are a long way from being in that position. If anything, we consider any gift left to us in a will as exactly that - a gift - and we are extremely grateful.
Q: I want to ensure that my children and grandchildren are provided for. That is my priority when it comes to my will. Any gift I leave to the Charity must not impact on the legacy I leave my family. Are you happy with this?
A: Absolutely. Wooden Spoon understands that family comes first. Our priority of course is the children and young people we support, but leaving a legacy isn't about what a charity needs, it is about what the donor wants. After all, it is your money, your family and each person has their own set of financial circumstances and charitable causes which they support during their lifetime. So any gift you leave to Wooden Spoon in your will, whether it is hundreds of pounds or thousands of pounds, is gratefully received.
Q: I want to leave a donation to support a project in my local area. Can the charity promise the money will be spent where I want?
A: Wooden Spoon will do everything in its power to spend the money where your wishes indicate the funds should be used. If you choose a county, parish, city or local area it may be easier for us to spend the funds than if you specify a particular town or school. With specific buildings - for example if you name a particular school or sensory room - there is a risk that the facility may no longer exist at the time your will is read. Your solicitor or will writer should be able to advise you on appropriate wording. If for any reason we would be unable to carry out the wishes, we would return the gift to the person's estate.
Q: As a volunteer on a Regional Committee and a keen attendee at Spoon events, I feel that I have given enough to Spoon over the years. I don't think I will leave a legacy to Spoon but I might ask for donations in lieu of flowers at my funeral. Is this easy to arrange?
A: You can make the arrangements with the funeral director who will collect any cheques for donations to Wooden Spoon at the funeral or memorial service and will forward them to us. There shouldn't be any additional burden on the family to organise this. Alternatively, you could set up a JustGiving In Memory page (you can do this from Wooden Spoon's JustGiving page) which, for those people who have internet access, can be a wonderful way for friends and family to honour someone by donating to a cause they cared about.
Q: I've been following reports in the news that the government is looking at changing inheritance tax to encourage people to leave legacies to charity. Do you think this will have an impact for Wooden Spoon?
A: At this stage I think it is too early to say. The Treasury is currently consulting on reducing inheritance tax to 36 per cent from 40 per cent for those leaving 10 per cent or more of their estates to charity. The Chancellor said in the Budget the change would come into force in April 2012. Rob Cope, director of Remember a Charity, which encourages more people to leave charitable legacies, believes only a few thousand people each year would be affected directly by the tax reliefs. This could be interpreted as having very little impact on Wooden Spoon. On the positive side, however, the increased awareness the change in tax will create among donors, solicitors and will writers would be enormously valuable to Wooden Spoon and charities in general.
If you have a question which is not answered here or would like to speak to someone about leaving a gift to Wooden Spoon in your will, or setting up an In Memory page via JustGiving, please call me on 01252 773 720.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Spoonews Winter 2011
The decision to write or update a will is extremely personal and can be taken for a number of reasons; marriage, divorce, the birth of a child or grandchild, or the death of a spouse. In my case I moved house at the beginning of 2010 and sadly two of my grandparents died during the year. Both left very specific instructions regarding funeral arrangements and particular items to be given to family and friends; my grandfather left me a lamp I had admired as a child and his thoughtfulness prompted me to think about my own arrangements.
Of course I'm hoping my preparations won't be required for many years, but with one in three people in the UK dying intestate (according to the Law Society) it is too easy to leave this until it is too late. A common misconception is there's no point making a will unless you have large sums of money or valuable works of art tucked away. Interestingly, statistics collated by charities regarding gifts left in wills show the average amount of money left to charity is between £1,000 and £5,000.
The simplest way to leave money to Wooden Spoon is to include a specific money gift, such as £5,000 for the general purposes of the charity. However, assuming my assets will appreciate in value throughout my life (ever the optimist!) Spoon should receive a much higher monetary amount if I leave a percentage of my residual estate. So once I have listed specific gifts to family, friends and god children I can leave the residue of my estate to Wooden Spoon for the general purposes of the charity.
Wooden Spoon's legacy leaflet provides the suggested wording "for the general purposes of the charity" and I queried why this is important. A solicitor can advise on appropriate wording for individual requirements, but the suggestion in the leaflet reduces the likelihood of the charity being unable to accept the gift in my will. For example if I prescribe that my gift of money should be used by the charity to support a specific project close to where I live, but by the time my estate is divided up the particular project is no longer operating, the charity cannot benefit from the funds. From Wooden Spoon's point of view therefore, it is better if I am less specific about how my gift should be spent.
As a variation on my grandfather's idea, another way I could benefit Wooden Spoon in my will is to leave a particular item that the charity can sell or auction to raise funds. The charity probably wouldn't have much use for a lamp, but if the item is valuable or a piece of sporting memorabilia it could raise a significant amount in an auction or raffle. I don't have anything that would be appropriate as yet, but there's still time!
Anyone who already has a will can add a simple codicil to include a gift of money to the charity and a solicitor will be able to advise on this, although suggested wording for such a codicil can be found by clicking here.
For me, this hasn't just been about ticking off a job from my list of things to do. It has also been a way of "putting my money where my mouth is" for a charity I support and putting something in place that will ensure a measure of the charity's good work continues after I have gone. After all, I'm committed enough to work for the charity and to donate while I'm alive, so why should that stop in the future?
Although I can't provide legal advice on leaving a gift to Wooden Spoon in your own will or codicil, I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about this subject so please do give me a call on 01252 773720.
Operations & HR Manager
Making or updating your will is easier and more affordable than you may think. Please refer to our brief guide and the FAQ to help you in the process before visiting your solicitor. And to help you battle through the legal jargon we have also provided a glossary of terms.My article which appeared in the last edition of Spoonews regarding leaving a gift to Wooden Spoon in a will raised sparked some heated debates and raised a number of questions among supporters, staff and volunteers. A selection of the most frequent comments and questions is provided here.A: We realise that legacies are a sensitive, almost taboo, subject and are difficult to talk about easily. Perhaps we haven't been very good in the past at informing our members and supporters about leaving gifts in wills but we are trying to rectify this gradually. Other charities consider legacies as simply another form of fundraising but we are a long way from being in that position. If anything, we consider any gift left to us in a will as exactly that - a gift - and we are extremely grateful.