In drafting testamentary gifts to churches, charities and religious organisations the following considerations will be common:

  • The identity of the person or body to whom the gift should be made: Regard must be had to the organisational structure of the recipient charity, church or religion.
  • The purposes for which the gift may be applied: The donee may favour the flexibility of a gift for its general purposes whereas the person making his or her Will's preference is likely to be for a degree of prescription. An unincorporated donee may be able to use the provisions of section 275 of the Charities Act 2011 to overcome restrictions imposed by the testator. If specific purposes are contemplated they should be within the charitable purposes of the donee.
  • Whether the donee may expend both capital and income: If the gift is to be held on permanent trusts this may affect the identity of the appropriate body to receive the gift. If the gift is modest in amount an unincorporated donee may be able to use the provisions of section 281 of the Charities Act 2011 to spend the capital.
  • Whether the gift will be charitable: A gift to a charitable body is not itself charitable if the gift is for non-charitable purposes. A non-charitable gift may subject to inheritance tax and, if it is made on permanent trusts, it may offend the rule against perpetuities.


We can advise on the wording to go into Wills, provide advice on the tax efficiency of a Will including gift to charities. When a Will has been made, we can advise personal representatives on the administration of the estate and on challenges to provision made in Wills. We can advise on gifts to charities and how to make variations to the strict wording of the gift when too inflexible for the charity's needs.

We can also work with help charities, churches and religious organisations with legacy administration and with setting up schemes to encourage their followers to make provision for their affairs by Will.


  • Ian Blaney
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  • Howard Dellar
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  • Susan Newell
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  • Jane Grenfell
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