Guest Blog by Meg Abdy, Legacy Foresight\r\nGifts in wills are a vital and much-valued source of income for British charities \u2013 in total, legacies account for 6% of all the income received across the sector. Last year, legacy income totalled \u00a33bn \u2013 that\u2019s the equivalent of 36 Comic Reliefs or 48 London Marathons.\r\nSome of our best-known charities are especially reliant on gifts in wills, which can account for a third or even a half of their total income. The money they receive pays for important work, whether it\u2019s ground-breaking medical research, saving lives at sea, preserving national treasures or building wells in developing countries.\r\nThe value of legacy giving has been rising over many years; in large part thanks to the growing generosity of the British public. Over the past five years, 580,000\u00a0charitable bequests were left in British estates, up from 500,000 (again over five years) a decade earlier.\r\nLegacy incomes also reflect the value of the assets left in those estates \u2013 most importantly houses and savings. As our economy strengthens, incomes rise; when it falters, they fall back. Take 2008, when the global financial crisis struck. Almost overnight, UK-wide legacy income fell by 5% - and it took the next three years for that income to revert to its previous level. Conversely, from 2012 to 2017 we saw legacy incomes bounce back, along with consumer confidence and business activity.\r\nSo, it\u2019s no surprise that the deep uncertainties surrounding Brexit are having a negative impact on charity legacy incomes. We Brits are deferring important investment decisions \u2013 whether it\u2019s to move home, move job, launch a new business or build a new factory \u2013 until and unless the position becomes clearer. We just don\u2019t know what\u2019s best.\r\nFor now, incomes are continuing to rise, but at a slower rate. Assuming some sort of Brexit deal can be agreed in the coming months, we predict that legacy incomes will grow by 2.4% a year over the next five years, totalling \u00a315.8bn. That\u2019s modest growth compared to the post-recession period from 2012 to 2017, but, far better than the doldrums experienced after the last financial crisis.\r\nHowever, if Britain were to \u2018crash out\u2019 of the EU without a deal, the position for British charities (let alone British society) could be far worse. Under this scenario, both house and share prices are expected to fall sharply, dragging down legacy values in their wake. According to our legacy market model, under this gloomy scenario, incomes over the next five years would total just \u00a314.6bn \u2013 that\u2019s a loss of \u00a31.2bn for good causes.\r\nOf course, there\u2019s very little charities can do to influence the political machinations in Westminster or Brussels. But they need to be aware of the potential risk and factor it into future plans. That might mean deferring big investment decisions, breaking into reserves, or cutting back on the projects they operate.\r\nNo-one can say how Brexit will pan out over the next few years. But in the long term, we believe that the outlook for legacy giving is good, thanks to demographic trends and the fundamental generosity of British will-makers.\r\nFor legacy fundraisers, our advice is to focus on what you can control \u2013 recognise the inevitable short-term instability but concentrate on influencing and inspiring future generations of legacy donors; British people want to do good things with their money and make a difference long after they are gone; Brexit will not change that.\r\n..................\r\nMeg Abdy is Development Director at Legacy Foresight \u2013 Britain\u2019s foremost analysts of the legacy and in-memory sectors in the UK. Meg has been analysing the legacy market since 1994, when she coordinated the first ever legacy forecasting project, now known as Legacy Monitor \u2013 an 80-strong consortium of the UK\u2019s leading legacy income charities, which last year received \u00a31.5bn in legacy income and 54,000 gifts in wills.\r\nLegacy Foresight shares legacy and in-memory giving insights and research on a regular basis. Their latest report Legacy Market Outlook, which analyses legacy giving now and predictions for the coming five years, is available to request via their website.