Will-writing and legacy gifts - your questions answered

Writing a will is your opportunity to provide for the people and causes you love.

Here are our most frequently asked questions about making a will:

Why should I write a will?

How much does it cost to write a will?

What do I need to think about when writing a will?

What if I just want to make a small change to my existing will?

How can I be sure my money will reach the people I want to help?

Will a legacy to charity affect Inheritance Tax?

How should I word my will to include a gift to CAFOD?

Can I decide where my legacy will be spent?

Do I have to tell CAFOD of my wishes and plans?

How will my legacy gift be honoured?

Why should I write a will?

A will is one of the most important documents you’ll write. It gives you the opportunity to clearly state what you would like to happen to your belongings and name the people and causes you want to benefit.  

In some cases, not having a proper will can result in “intestacy”, meaning the estate is divided according to certain rules set out in law. Dependants not formally recognised as family (such as an unmarried partner or step-children) do not have automatic rights under these laws. 

Not having a clear will can cause confusion and upset for those left behind, at an already difficult time. This can be avoided by having a will written with a professional to ensure that all eventualities are covered. 

How much does it cost to write a will?

Many people worry about the cost of writing a will but it’s a good investment in your family’s future. A simple will can cost as little as £70 and a mirror will (for couples) can be written for around £120.

We wouldn’t advise you to try writing your own will. A professional can help you consider all eventualities and allow for different scenarios. It’s all too easy to overlook something or make a mistake that could invalidate your will or cause delays and upsets when the time comes to administer the estate. 

CAFOD offer a free will service so supporters can make or update their will without cost. Contact us to find out more about using the service.

What do I need to think about when writing a will?

Our free guide to writing a will covers the important things to think about when making or updating a will and leaving a legacy to CAFOD. It also includes a useful form to help you organise your thoughts. You can order your copy here, but if you can’t wait to receive your guide through the post, here are some of the key things to consider.

List your assets

Make a list of everything you own of value (e.g. property, vehicles, investments, savings and collectibles.)

List your liabilities

Work out what you owe at the time of writing your will (e.g. mortgage, loans, credit cards.)

List the people and causes you want to remember and what you want to leave them

Write down the full name and address of people you intend to include in your will and be specific about what you want to leave them. If remembering a charity it’s a good idea to include its registered details. You'll find CAFOD's registered details below. 

Choose your executors - the people you want to carry out your wishes 

Executors can be professionals, such as solicitors or banks, or they can be trusted relatives or friends. If nominating someone who isn’t a professional, please check they are willing to take on this responsibility. You may also find our information and advice for executors helpful. 

Double check your draft will and make sure you sign it

Once your adviser has drafted your will, read it through carefully and make sure it says exactly what you want it to say. When you’re happy with it, the will must be signed and dated by you and two witnesses.

Keep your will safe and sound

Once you’ve made your will it’s important to store it safely. Review it regularly to ensure it reflects your circumstances and wishes. 

What if I just want to make small changes to my existing will?

Minor alterations to a will can sometimes be covered by writing a codicil, which works in addition to your full will. An example of a codicil form  can be downloaded here.

How can I be sure my money will reach the people I want to help?

Our local presence means we see the reality on the ground. We work with communities to identify how they can best face their challenges. The local Church is trusted even in the most dangerous places in the world, so we can deliver support where others can’t. We also work in collaboration with aid agencies from different faith backgrounds so we can reach even more people. 

We strive to make sure our funds are spent effectively, efficiently and for the intended purpose. See how and where we raise and spend funds

Will a legacy to charity affect Inheritance Tax?

Estates worth more than £325,000 (the nil rate band) are eligible for Inheritance Tax (IHT) at a rate of 40% on anything above the nil rate band. For example, an estate worth £400,000 would result in a tax bill of £30,000 (40% of £75,000).

Charities are exempt from paying IHT, meaning that gifts to charity in your will do not count towards the nil rate band. So using the example above, a charitable legacy of £75,000 would mean the estate doesn’t attract any inheritance tax.

Your estate could also benefit from a reduced rate of inheritance tax if you leave 10% or more to charity in your will. You should speak to your adviser to ensure the wording of your will takes advantage of this.

For more information about Inheritance Tax order our guide to making a will or visit the government website www.hmrc.gov.uk/inheritancetax

How should I word my will to include a gift to CAFOD?

When including a legacy to charity it’s important to specify the charity’s registered name, address and charity number.

For CAFOD these are:
Registered name: Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD)
Registered address: Romero House, 55 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7JB
Registered charity number: 1160384

You can also print off our suggested wording for different types of legacy gift to take to your solicitor.

Can I decide where my legacy will be spent?

Legacies are usually unrestricted gifts, allowing us to use the funds wherever the need is greatest at that particular time.

If you have a particular area of interest that you’d like to benefit, please contact us to discuss your intentions. We’ll always try to accommodate people’s wishes but sometimes leaving a gift to a specific project or country can cause difficulties, especially if the project has finished or if we’ve stopped working in that country by the time the supporter has died. If you can let us know what you’d like to achieve through your gift, we’ll do our best to help you.

Do I have to tell CAFOD of my wishes and plans?

Your will is a personal document and you’re not under any obligation to tell us anything. It would be lovely if you felt comfortable sharing your intentions with us, because then we’d be able to thank you for your amazing kindness.

Knowing that people are including us in their wills today gives us added confidence for tomorrow and helps us commit to important long-term projects. To let us know you’ve included a gift to CAFOD in your will, or that you intend to do so, please contact Hannah Caldwell on 020 7095 5367 or email legacy@cafod.org.uk. We’d love to hear from you!

How will my gift be honoured?

Because we work hard to make every gift go as far as possible - and because our supporters have told us that’s the way they’d like things to stay – we don’t erect benches and plaques or plant trees in the name of our past friends. In many of the countries we work in, that kind of tribute just wouldn’t be possible.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t value those who leave a legacy: quite the opposite. Many of those who leave us such a special gift have lived prudently their whole lives and have often made sacrifices to help the people and causes they cared about. So in their memory and following their example, we make sure their last and most special gift is used wisely to help as many people as possible.

Each year, the names of those we receive a legacy gift from during the past 12 months are included in our Books of Remembrance, which are blessed at our diocesan memorial Masses in November. 

Get in touch

If you have any questions about writing your will and how your legacy gift can help communities around the world, call Hannah Caldwell on 020 7095 5367 or email legacy@cafod.org.uk

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