Wills and charities - the importance of getting it right

By Greg Cox / 12 June 2019

Most, if not all of us, would like to think that philanthropy or charitableness is something that we turn our minds to at some point during our lifetime.

Having supported one or more charities during their lifetime, many people wish to see these or other charities benefit from their estates, pursuant to their Wills upon their deaths.

Unfortunately however, the Will-maker’s charitable wishes and intentions are often not properly given effect, which can result in considerable and unnecessary costs being incurred, often at the expense of the estate. In our experience, there are a number of reasons for this, including:

  • the right people not being appointed as the executors of the Will who will then administer the estate and give effect to the Will-maker’s wishes;
  • proper consideration not being given to the claims of family members to the estate and proper consideration not being given to estate planning strategies;
  • getting the names of the charities wrong;
  • not allowing for the possibility that  any one or more of the charities change their name, amalgamate with another charity or cease to exist between the time the Will was made and the Will-makers death;
  • structuring the gift to the charity in a way that does not benefit the charity in the best possible way; and
  • not reviewing the Will on a regular basis and updating it if and when necessary.

Another fundamental reason for a person’s charitable wishes and intentions not being given proper effect is that the Will-maker did not obtain proper, professional advice and assistance in the estate planning process. This is where an experienced lawyer who specialises in estate planning can, and does, add value.

It makes sense to have your Will done properly by an experienced lawyer, rather than having your Will done as cheaply as possible. Whilst it will understandably come at a cost, the alternative is to risk the estate being eroded by paying costs associated with claims or disputes that arise after the Will-maker’s death. Those subsequent costs invariably outweigh the initial cost associated with getting assistance in preparing the Will from an experienced lawyer.

For more information or discussion, please contact HopgoodGanim Lawyers’ Estates and succession team.

Greg Cox
Special Counsel
Greg is one of the leaders of HopgoodGanim’s Estates and Succession team and offers more than 30 years’ experience in estate planning, administration and litigation.

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