Legacy giving needs to be safeguarded, says Remember A Charity

10 November 2017

In its submission to the Law Commission’s consultation on Wills, the 200-strong charity consortium – Remember A Charity – welcomes proposals for electronic and video Wills, but cites the need to balance easier Will-making with added safeguards to protect the public and minimise the risk of dispute. The Law Commission’s consultation closes today, 10th November 2017.

Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, says: “If the legal profession gets the balance right, this overhaul of Will-writing could be crucial for growing charitable legacies. One of the biggest barriers to legacy giving is that too few people are making or updating a Will and the process needs to be made simpler and easier to do, with sufficient safeguards in place to ensure people’s final wishes are met.”

Remember A Charity supports the development of electronic and video Wills from regulated providers, and recommends a centralised national Wills storage system, among a range of measures to modernise the current framework.

Cope says: “Wills have to be brought out of the dark ages. Introducing electronic and video as a means particularly for those who can no longer write or visit a solicitor’s office is certainly welcome. But we need to be mindful that relaxing the laws around what makes a Will legally valid could create uncertainty and increase the scope for legacy disputes. This means having more accessible, regulated Will-writing opportunities, while ensuring appropriate checks are in place to test mental capacity and protect against undue influence.

“With contested Wills on the rise, charities are keen to avoid the emotional, financial and reputational costs associated with inheritance disputes, defending donors’ wishes and their own legal obligation for funds allocated to them. We are keen to ensure that the new system provides greater protection for the public and minimises the scope for conflict between charities and any other potential recipients.”

With an estimated 4 in 10 people currently dying without a Will, Remember A Charity’s consultation submission also encourages a public campaign to tackle intestacy.