Download our free Will-writing guide or order your copy to receive in the post.
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.
Your questions answered
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.
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.
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 write your will on your own. A professional can help you consider all eventualities. 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 supporters can make or update their will for free. Contact us to find out more about using the service.
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.
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.
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, you should include the registered details. You'll find CAFOD's registered details in the section above.
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 relatives or friends. If nominating someone who isn’t a professional, check they are willing to take on this responsibility. You may also find our information and advice for executors helpful.
Double check your document 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
Once you’ve made your will it’s important to store it safely. Review it regularly to ensure it reflects your circumstances and wishes.
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. A codicil should only be used for straightforward gifts, such as a cash gift or item, not a residuary share.
Inheritance tax (IHT) is applied to estates worth more than £325,000 (known as the nil rate band). IHT is charged 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.
You can reduce tax on your estate if you leave 10% or more to charity in your will: Inheritance tax reduces from 40% to 36%. You should speak to your adviser to ensure the wording of your will takes advantage of this.
Why has CAFOD's charity number changed?
CAFOD changed charity numbers in 2015, because our legal status changed to become a charitable company. This is something that many charities of a certain size do in order to protect the liability of their trustees. With this change came our new registered charity number, 1160384.
Any wills that have already been written using our old number, 285776, are still valid. If you are making or updating your will, please use our current number, 1160384.
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.
Legacies are usually unrestricted gifts, allowing us to use the funds wherever the need is greatest at that particular time.
If you have a specific area of interest that you’d like your gift to go to, 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 gift is received. If you let us know what you’d like to achieve through your gift, we’ll do our best to help you.
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 in the name of our benefactors. In many of the countries we work in, that kind of tribute wouldn’t be possible or appropriate.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t value those who leave a legacy: quite the opposite. Those who leave us a gift have made sacrifices to help the people and causes they cared about. So 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.
Your will is a personal document and you’re under no obligation to tell us anything. But if you do feel comfortable sharing your intentions with us, we would really like the opportunity to say thank you!
Knowing that people are including us in their wills gives us added confidence for the years ahead. To let us know you’ve included a gift to CAFOD in your will, or that you intend to do so, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you.