Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about writing a Will and leaving a legacy.
Please get in touch if you have further questions or want to discuss a specific issue.
For any legal queries we recommend you contact a legal professional for advice relevant to your circumstances.
How can I find a Will-writing specialist in my area?
To minimise problems, we strongly recommend you use a qualified, registered solicitor. If you don’t already have a solicitor in mind, we recommend visiting the Law Society website at one of the links below. Be sure to select “Wills” from the legal issue drop-down menu to find a solicitor with the appropriate expertise.
For England and Wales
For Northern Ireland
Many charities offer a free will service for their supporters. If you have a charity in mind to leave a legacy gift to, contact them to ask if they offer this service.
Can I leave a gift in my Will to Your Catholic Legacy?
No. It’s very kind of you to wish to support our initiative but the members are all individual charities who are working together in this awareness campaign. Your Catholic Legacy is not a charity and our aim is to encourage people to consider leaving a gift in their Will to their chosen individual charities.
Read more about the work of our members here.
What do I need to consider when making a Will?
Writing a Will is often a relatively simple and straightforward process. Knowing you have things in place often brings peace of mind.
Here are some important things to consider before writing your will:
- What are values of your assets and debts?
- Who are the people that are important to you and how would you like to remember them in your Will?
- Who would you like to name as your executors (the people that will carry out your wishes according to your Will) and guardians (those that you wish to appoint to care for any children under the age of 18)? We would recommend that you check that they would be happy to take on the roles before you appoint them in your Will.
- Are there any charities that you would like to benefit?
Why should I make a Will?
Many people say that writing their Will gives them peace of mind to know everything is taken care of. Here are some of the benefits of writing your Will.
• You can choose executors. These are the people that you want to carry out your wishes according to your Will after you’re gone.
• You decide how you would like your estate divided, to whom and in what shares. If you die without a Will, the state dictates how it’s divided, and it may not suit your wishes.
• You can leave gifts to charities you care about. Some charity supporters see a gift in their Will as an opportunity to make a far-reaching gift that will help future generations.
• Charitable gifts can help to reduce the Inheritance Tax on your estate.
• You are able to provide for your loved ones in the way that’s most appropriate for their needs and circumstances (such as setting up a trust to safeguard the interests of a young or vulnerable relative.)
What is a legacy and what types of gifts can I put in my Will?
A legacy is a gift made in your Will to a person or organisation, such as a charity or your church. You can choose to leave:
• A share of your estate (also known as a residuary legacy), made after any debts and cash legacy gifts are paid. The advantage of leaving a share of your estate is that it will automatically increase or decrease in line with the total estate value, so you don’t need to worry about inflation or how much will be left after the expenses of old age.
• A fixed sum of money (also known as a pecuniary legacy). Unlike a residuary legacy this will not automatically fluctuate in line with your wealth, so it may be worth reviewing from time to time to check it still reflects your wishes. You can also index-link the amount so that it keeps in line with inflation.
• A gift of a particular item, for example a piece of jewellery, furniture or a painting. You could also consider the direction of a death-in-service benefit or bequeathing stocks and shares.
• A life interest or trust beneficiary. Depending on your circumstances you may be setting up a trust in your Will. Once it has been used to benefit the primary individual, it is possible to nominate a charity to be a final beneficiary.
We recommend taking advice from a legal professional if you are unsure which type of gift to choose.
If I am including a gift to charity in my Will, what technical information do I need to know?
You will need to make a note of the charity’s full name, address and charity number and what type of legacy gift you wish to make.
When should I update my Will?
We would recommend reviewing your Will every few years just to double check it is still valid. When a big life change occurs, for example, a birth, death, marriage, retirement or change in financial circumstances, it is likely your Will should be updated.
I’d like to add a gift to charity to my Will but don’t want to rewrite it. Is there something that I could do myself?
By using a codicil you can make a simple change to a Will without too much trouble or expense. Your solicitor or professional Will-writer will be able to help you to do this. You can also add a “Letter of wishes” to let your executors know of any requests you have, although this document is not legally binding.
What are the tax implications? Do I have to pay inheritance tax?
If you leave a gift to a charity in your Will its value is deducted from your estate before inheritance tax is calculated. If you leave at least 10% of your estate to charity, it can reduce the inheritance tax on the rest of your estate. Ask your will-writer for further details.