Ex Gratia claims
Ex gratia claims pose a very difficult issue for legacy officers as charities do not have the same freedoms as a private individual to give away part of their entitlement – charities are much more constrained in what they can agree to because they may not lawfully expend their funds other than in support of their charitable objectives. Any request outside of this can amount to an ex gratia payment and if this is the case, the consent of the Charity Commission will have to be obtained.
Occasionally, however, charity trustees may conclude that it is in the interests of the charity to apply funds for purposes which, strictly speaking, are outside the terms of the governing instrument. Such a situation may arise where a legacy is left to a charity but owing to certain circumstances, the trustees of the charity believe that they are under a moral, but not legal, obligation to make a payment to a third party. An example may be where a person passes away shortly after a grandchild has been born and they have not made provision in their Will for that grandchild, whilst they have made provision for their other grandchildren who are older.