Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some of the basic questions you may have about writing a will and leaving a legacy.
This list is not exhaustive, so please get in touch if you have further questions or want to discuss a specific issue.
We will be more than happy to help.
For any legal queries we would always 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 dropdown menu to find a solicitor with the appropriate expertise.
For England and Wales
For Northern Ireland
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 in its own right and our aim is to encourage people to consider leaving a gift in their Will to their chosen individual charities.
If you are considering remembering one or more of our member charities in your Will, please click here to read more about their work.
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, should something happen to you, often brings much comfort and peace of mind.
There are a number considerations you will need to make before you make your Will and we hope that the following will help you in your preparation:
- What are your assets and liabilities?
- 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 nominate as 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 approach these people to check that they would be happy to take on the roles before you appoint them in your Will.
- Is there a particular charity that you would like to benefit?
Why should I make a Will?
There are many benefits to having a Will, these include;
- 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 are able to decide how you would like your estate divided, and 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 (e.g. the law doesn’t consider friends, distant relatives or charities).
- 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. Many people believe that providing for their favourite causes can help to protect the people, places and projects they love, and see a legacy as their way of leaving their mark on the world. Whatever your motivation, you can make a lasting difference through a gift in your Will.
- Charitable gifts can help to reduce the Inheritance Tax that your estate has to pay.
- You are able to provide for your loved ones in the way that’s most appropriate for their needs and circumstances (e.g. using a trust to safeguard the interests of a young or vulnerable relative.)
What is a legacy? What are the types of gifts I can leave?
A legacy, also known as a bequest, is simply a gift made in your Will to a person or organisation (such as a charity or your church). There are several types of legacies that 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. You may choose to leave either a percentage or the total of your estate. 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 solicitor or professional Will-writer 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 recommended reviewing your Will every 3 years just to double check it is still valid. There are many circumstances that may mean you need to review it, for example, a birth, death, marriage, retirement or change in financial circumstances may mean that your Will needs updating.
I would love to add a gift to charity in 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.
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 solicitor for details.