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Legacy Clause Wording Guidance

Guidance Note: Wills - Wording for Charity Legacies

CO.CHA.156

This Guidance Note: Wills - Wording for Charity Legacies deals with issues relating to donations to charities of cash legacies by individuals under their wills.

In particular, the note explains why and how charities can benefit from “legacy marketing” as part of their fundraising strategy, i.e. promoting to existing and potential supporters of their charity the idea and practical means of giving legacies to the charity.

This Guidance Note gives reasons why a charity should make available to such actual or potential supporters some specific wording that they can easily include in their Wills (or Codicils to Wills) where they wish to leave a legacy to the charity.

It also explains the importance of ensuring that the wording is effective to leave the intended legacy, and how a legacy can fail (i.e. result in the charity not receiving any of the legacy) if the wording is not legally correct. The note summarises a 2020 High Court decision in a case where legacy wording in a will was ambiguous and as result the court had to grapple with two questions. Firstly, it had to decide how in the  case of each legacy the will should be interpreted. Secondly, it had to decide whether or not, given that interpretation, legacies to four different charities in the will would fail.

We recommend to charity trustees that they read this useful background guidance and that they make use of the ready-made legacy wording which can be found in this subfolder.

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