Record levels of solicitors raise the topic of legacies with clients

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The proportion of solicitors and Will-writers mentioning the option of legacy giving with clients has risen to an all-time high, according to new research commissioned by Remember A Charity.

The tracking study, carried out by Future Thinking, monitors solicitors’ and professional Will-writers’ approach towards legacy giving and attitudes towards working with charities. The study reveals that 68% of solicitors and Will-writers always or sometimes proactively raise the subject of legacy giving with clients, up from 58% in 2012.

Almost one quarter (24%) occasionally raise the topic, while only 7% say they never do, down from more than twice that (16%) in 2012. On average, advisers report that 20% of the Wills they deal with annually contain a charitable bequest, having risen steadily from 16% in 2012. 85% of the legal firms in the study had assisted in administering estates that included a legacy.

Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, says: “Over the years, we’ve seen a marked change in the way that advisers are approaching gifts in Wills with clients. Legacy giving is becoming more common across the client base, and there’s much less reticence when it comes to raising the topic of charitable giving.

“Increasingly, advisers now see discussions about gifts in Wills as part and parcel of offering a comprehensive service to clients. In most cases, clients will want to look after friends and family first – and that’s something we’d encourage.

"But a simple question asking all Will-writing clients if they’d like to consider leaving a donation too can make a huge difference to the number of people that choose to give in this way, which is why working with advisers is such a key part of our strategy.”

For the first time, the tracking study also explored the reasons for and barriers against opening up legacy giving conversations with clients. Advisors that always open up legacy giving conversations with clients said they typically do so because it is part of their standard Will-writing process or because they want to alert clients to the tax breaks linked to writing a gift into their Will.

Any legacy gift to charity is currently exempt from Inheritance Tax (charged at 40%), and a lower rate of tax (36%) is applicable on estates where 10% or more is donated. The most common barrier for not always mentioning legacy giving is that clients have already made clear their intentions, such as wanting their family and friends to be sole beneficiaries.

Rob adds: “Clearly, there’s much further to go before legacy giving becomes a social norm and every adviser feels comfortable and confident about raising the conversation with clients. We’ll be working more closely with the legal sector in the coming months to encourage greater consistency in the way that advisers approach gifts in Wills with clients and to provide resources that help them do so.”

Remember A Charity is now working with the legal sector to develop a new suite of materials that will help to bring greater consistency and demonstrate best practice for the way that advisors can reference charitable giving with clients.