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Gifting to a charity in your Will

Leaving a gift to a charity in your Will is a great way to provide support to organisations and causes you care about. As with any other gift in your Will, it is important to make sure that any charitable gift is clear and carefully drafted to ensure that your wishes are carried out after you pass.

Why give to a charity in my Will?

The main reason we see people giving to charities in their Will is to support a cause they care about. Often, people have either given to a certain charity regularly during their life or because they feel a close connection to the work done by that charity.

Which charity should I choose?

Before leaving a gift to a charity, you should investigate the organisation and make sure that you are comfortable with its cause and objects. You should ensure that it is a legitimate charity and also be comfortable with how they will use your gift.

Issues that arise when gifting to a charity in your Will

If you want to make a gift to a charity in your Will, we recommend you obtain appropriate legal advice so that your wishes are followed and implemented.

Unfortunately, some of the things we see go wrong when gifting to a charity include:

1. The charity in question either does not exist at all or is not sufficiently identified or correctly named in the Will.

When gifting to a charity under your Will, it is important to identify the entity by the correct legal name. Some charitable organisations may be known as one name, however, may have a different registered name.

Therefore, it is important to include the organisation’s Australian Company Number (ACN) or Australian Business Number (ABN) and their address.

2. The Will does not cover the possibility of the particular charity changing its name, amalgamating with another charity or ceasing to exist between when the Will was made and when the Will-maker dies.

It is possible that a charity may be wound up or closed down between the time the Will is made, and when the Will-maker dies. 

To ensure that your gift is valid, we recommend including a provision in your Will to allow your gift to pass to another charitable organisation, the objectives of which, your executor in their discretion considers most similarly resembles the objects of the charity you have nominated.

3. The Will sets out a particular purpose that the gift is to be used for which cannot be given effect to.

A charity may deal with your gift as it sees fit, or you may include a wish in your Will, specifying how and where your gift is to be applied– for example, a gift which is expressed to be for the purpose of assisting research into a specific kind of cancer or to be used in a particular project of that charitable organisation.

We recommend contacting the charity directly and confirming that it is able to direct your donation to that specific purpose. Otherwise, the charity may use your gift as it sees fit.

4. The Will-maker has not given proper consideration to the risk of family provision claims.

It is important to keep in mind that certain people may challenge a Will in cases where they have not been provided adequate provision.

If you do intend to substantially benefit a charity over people who are eligible to make a claim on your estate, this should be done with legal advice.

Strategies should be put in place to protect the charitable gift if the Will is contested. It is also a good idea to discuss your charitable bequest intentions with your family first so that they can understand why your gift is important to you. 

With the above issues in mind, it is important that a person wanting to make a gift to charities in their Will obtains appropriate legal advice and has their Will prepared by a lawyer. If you would like to discuss gifting a charity under your Will, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Duncan MacDougall

Written by—

Duncan MacDougall

Call 07 3035 4077 to speak with our team now