The big myths about Will writing and gift-giving

Many of us think that drawing up a Will and leaving gifts to good causes is time-consuming and expensive. It’s time to debunk those myths and get more people to donate to a charity.

When asked, 35 per cent of people aged 40 or over in the UK say that they would be happy to leave a small charitable gift in their Will. That’s a sizeable amount of the population and it would make a huge difference to the country’s good causes.

The trouble is, the number who actually follow through with this promise is a rather more modest 6.3% of the population. So what’s putting people off?

First of all, not many of us actually have a Will to begin with. In fact, according to YouGov, nearly two thirds of the UK adult population don’t have a Will — which means that, when they die, their assets will be subject to government intestacy rules. “People just don’t get round to it,” says Rob Cope, Director of Remember a Charity. “Making a Will drifts to the bottom of their ‘to-do’ pile which is natural human behaviour. But we really do need to crack this issue and change people’s mindsets.”

To do that, it’s important to bust five big myths about making Wills and leaving gifts in Wills, says Rob.

“Making a Will is complicated”

This is an easy myth to bust, because making a Will is actually incredibly straightforward. “It can be done in less than an hour,” says Rob. “And once it is, it will give you real peace of mind.” To draw up a Will, visit a solicitor or a qualified Will writer. “Online Wills have also become more prevalent in recent times, plus you can arrange to make a Will over the phone,” says Rob. To make sure the Will is well-drafted by a professional with proper qualifications, carry out due diligence checks and ensure they are a member of a professional body, such as The Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW).

“Making a Will is expensive”

This is another myth, notes Cope, because it doesn’t have to be pricey. “It does depend on how big your estate is and how complex it is — but a relatively simple Will can be drawn up for around £100-£150,” he says.

“Leaving a small amount to a charity won’t make a difference”

Wrong again, says Cope. “Some people think that gift-giving in Wills only applies to people who are wealthy. But even a small amount can make a massive difference to your favourite good causes.”

“When leaving gifts in my Will, I’ll have to make a choice between family and charity”

“This is the biggest myth of all,” says Cope. “It’s not an either/or situation. First, I would encourage people to talk to their family about what they are planning to do. Then I would suggest thinking of their Will as a cake. They can give nearly all of the cake to their family or friends; but the small slice that’s left over at the end can be divided between their favourite charities. And that can feed an awful lot of people.”

“I can only leave a gift in my Will to one charity”

Not so, says Cope. “People can leave gifts to as many different charities as they want. On average people leave to three different charities — but the amount is entirely up to you. And that’s great because it gives you a chance to think about all the causes you really care about.” These can be big and international — or small and local.