Once your nearest and dearest are taken care of, you may also want to think about including your favourite charity in your will. Read on to find out how to make sure your wishes are carried out.


It’s always a good idea to choose people you trust to be executors of your will so you know they will make sure your assets go to the people and charities of your choosing.

There’s nothing stopping anybody from contesting a will, but naming an executor is a good way of avoiding conflict. 

How much to leave

Do a full review of all your assets and liabilities, including your savings, property, investments, life insurance policies, jewellery or art, your car plus any debts, mortgages or loans you have.

There is no tax on gifts to charities, but you should take into account the impact of Inheritance Tax and any other costs your loved ones will have. According to HM Revenue & Customs, charity gifts are deducted from the pot that is subject to Inheritance Tax, so giving money to charity is a way of reducing how much of your assets go to Inheritance Tax.

Some people leave a percentage of their assets to charity, while others calculate how much their loved ones need and donate the remainder. You may pick just one charity that means something to you, or spread your money across several. Whatever you do, it’s your choice.

Type of charity gift

There are a few more choices to make when including a charity in your will — you will have to decide what type of gift you’re going to give. These are some options:

  • A residuary gift will pass on whatever remains from your total assets after your loved ones have taken their share
  • A specific gift usually takes the form of a sentimental item that somebody wants to leave a family member (a family heirloom, for example) but you can give one to a charity which they can sell.
  • A pecuniary gift leaves a lump sum. Be aware that it will not be adjusted for inflation when considering this option, though. 

Making it legal

It’s very important to involve a solicitor and keep your will-up-to-date if your situation changes at all. If you don’t, your will might not be valid and you will be considered intestate. This means that any money you intended to leave to charity will automatically go to your spouse, civil partner or closest relatives regardless of your wishes.

Your solicitor will also make sure that you get the wording exactly right — missing out a digit of your charity’s registration number, getting their address wrong or not writing their name in full could invalidate your gift entirely in the eyes of the law. However, it has been known for family members to successfully appeal your decision to donate to charity in a process known as contesting a will.

Getting advice

Including a charity in your will is a straightforward process, but many people who intend to leave a legacy to a charity don’t end up taking the next step and altering their will. If you need any help at all, contact Citizens Advice or Age concern, who can give you lots more advice on making a will and finding a solicitor. 

Making a will