Gifting To Charity In Your Will
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Including a charity in your will can allow you to leave a legacy of generosity and continue to help a cause that is important to you even after you have gone. There are some rules to follow if you want the charity to receive the gift because even a minor error could mean the organisation misses out on your donation.
Here is what you need to know about gifting to charity in a will.
Be clear about your intentions for the gift
If you would like your gift to go toward a specific project or purpose you should make this known in your will. Charities often rely on donations for operational purposes such as paying salaries, rent or marketing costs, so if you would prefer your gift forms part of a scholarship fund or goes toward research, for example, you can specify this wish. You may also specify that you are happy for the gift to be used in any way the charity desires.
Specify the type of gift you would like the charity to receive
There are different types of gifts you can make in your will to a charity. These are:
- a sum of money;
- a certain percentage of your whole estate; or
- an asset such as shares or property, which the charity can choose to sell or use in a way which generates income.
Ensure the charity’s correct entity is listed
If the name of the charity is listed in your will incorrectly it may become difficult for the executor to distribute the gift once you have passed. To avoid confusion, make sure that the charity’s legal entity is named in the will. Even if your charity of choice is well known, it may be registered under a different name to the one which it is promoted as. Sometimes two or more charities will have similar names, so to avoid the gift being distributed to the wrong charity, you should include the Australian Business Number (ABN) or Australian Company Number (ACN) and the address of the organisation in your will along with its name.
It is simple and free to look up these details using the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) search tool.
Be mindful of how the charity’s operational status may change once you pass
In case the charity you’ve chosen to leave a gift to winds up or closes down in between the time you make your will and you pass away you should nominate a substitute charity to be the beneficiary of your gift. The charity should benefit a similar cause to your primary choice so that it aligns with your original wishes and the fulfilment can be easily made.
It is also wise to regularly review and update your will so you can stay on top of any changes to the charity if and when they occur.
If you need assistance preparing a will or altering an existing will our experienced estate lawyers can help.