The advice comes from the law firm Blake Morgan ahead of Remember a Charity Week, which runs from September 11 to 17.
The firm says some benefactors can be too specific about the purpose that they would like their legacy used for – and as a result, the charities they intended to help find they cannot use the gift.
In some cases, the legacy may be better spent in a different way – for example, charities may receive bequests to fund memorial benches when in fact they need money for more practical projects.
Laura Harper, Senior Associate Solicitor in the Succession and Tax Team at Blake Morgan, says: “The wording of the clause leaving your legacy to charity should be carefully considered to make sure your support ends up where you had intended.
“We have heard of charities being left lots of benches for their gardens, when actually they need cash for a vital project.
“It is therefore a good idea to get in contact with the charity to ask if they have any preferred wording to use in a Will. A sound approach would be to leave the money as an unrestricted gift, but express the wish that it be used for your intended purpose.
“That way, the charity can keep the money if your request cannot be fulfilled.”
Recent research by UK Fundraising shows that only 7% of the population leave a legacy to charity in their Will, despite 35% saying that they would consider doing so. The research also found that younger people were more likely to leave a charitable legacy than the older generations.
Laura added: “As solicitors, we are regularly asked to include a charity legacy in a Will, and when doing so, it is always worth considering how to make this gift, particularly as legacies passing to UK charities are exempt from inheritance tax.
“However large or small the gift, it is important to have the proper advice on all of the issues that you need to consider carefully before marking your will.”
Laura, recently named as one of the top private client lawyers aged under 35 in the eprivateclient Top 35 Under 35 list, is part of a private client team which works across Blake Morgan’s offices in London, the South Coast, Thames Valley and Wales to provide specialist advice to private individuals, executors and trustees.
The team is supporting Remember a Charity Week – an annual awareness week designed to encourage more people to consider leaving a gift to charity when writing a Will.
For more information, see www.rememberacharity.org.uk