Gifts in Wills: Frequently Asked Questions
- Pecuniary gifts are specified sums of money, often referred to as cash gifts.
- Residual gifts are a percentage of total value of your estate, after the cash gifts and specific items have been distributed. You can leave the whole or part of your residual estate to St Christopher’s.
- Specific gifts are things you own, such as jewellery, a stamp collection or your house.
To be valid your will must be signed by you and witnessed by two independent people, who must not be benefitting from your Will. You don’t need to know them but they must see you sign and date your Will.
These are people who will benefit from your Will in some way – with a cash gift, objects you own or a share of your estate. A beneficiary of your will cannot also witness your Will for you.
Do not amend your Will yourself as it will become invalid. You can write a codicil which is a document that amends (rather than replaces) a Will. The codicil must also abide by the same legal requirements as the original Will. It must also have two witnesses who do not benefit from the Will in any way.
It is more common now to re-write the whole Will as codicils can adversely affect a Will if incorrectly written and witnessed.
Leaving a charitable gift in your Will can reduce the liability for Inheritance Tax on your estate and benefit the charities and causes you care about. Your solicitor or a financial advisor can help you with this.
It is best to seek professional legal advice to draft your Will. This will ensure the correct form of words are used and avoid ambiguities and misunderstandings.
A Will is a personal document and you should make sure your signed copy is kept in a safe place and your closest relatives or friends know where it is. When using a solicitor or Will Writer, ask them how they store the Will after it is signed. Many of them are registered with the National Will Register (Certainty) which means a copy of your Will is registered and can be found for a small fee by anyone needing it after your death.
Example wording for residual gift (% share of estate)
“I give and bequeath to St Christopher’s Hospice of 51-59 Lawrie Park Road, Sydenham London SE26 6DZ, for general purposes, the residue of my estate, free of all duties, and I declare the receipt of the Treasurer or other proper officer for the time being of St Christopher’s Hospice shall constitute an absolute discharge to my Trustee.”
Example wording for pecuniary (cash) gift
“I give and bequeath to St Christopher’s Hospice of 51-59 Lawrie Park Road, Sydenham London SE26 6DZ, for general purposes, [insert amount], free of all duties, and I declare the receipt of the Treasurer or other proper officer for the time being of St Christopher’s Hospice shall constitute an absolute discharge to my Trustee.”
Most people leave their gift to St Christopher’s unconditionally, so the money can be used where it is most needed. It can be hard to tell where that might be in ten or twenty years time.
If you want your gift to be used towards a specific area of our work, please get in touch with our Gifts in Wills team and we can discuss the different options available.
Please do tell us if you would like to, but you don’t have to, we absolutely respect your privacy. If you do tell us, we’d love to say thank you and keep you up to date with our work.
Your loved ones must come first, of course. But in some cases it is beneficial to the family to leave gifts to charities you care about because of the overall reduction in Inheritance Tax. It’s a good idea to discuss your plans with your family so they understand and feel included in your decision.