Bequeathing - Leaving Personal Possessions and Donating to Charity

Bequests are specific gifts left to friends or relatives in a person’s will.

Writing a will provides the perfect opportunity to thank people who have played an important part in your life, or to help people who might benefit from a financial contribution.

This is the only time in your life when you can give people money without them feeling embarrassed by it! After all, there’s no-one to argue with about whether you can afford it or not.

Bequests can take the form of financial gifts, or treasured possessions such as jewellery, artwork, property, cars or other items. They can be passed on to friends, family or charity.

When people support a particularly cause, they often choose to leave money to a charity in their will to further their support after their death. Most charities can give you clear instructions on how to leave money to them in your will.

If you are going to bequeath a substantial amount to charity, you can let the charity know when you write your will, though you don’t have to do this.

You can put conditions on bequests, for example leaving someone a property only if they are married or have children at the time of your death.

Be clear about bequests of personal items so as not to confuse the executors or cause disputes among beneficiaries. Jewellery, for example, should be clearly identified if there are several pieces.

Get professional help in writing your will, from either a solicitor of qualified and experienced will writer, to ensure there are no misunderstandings when your will is read.

You can write an informal ‘Expression of Wish’ letter, spelling out how you would like smaller gifts to be divided up. You can do this yourself and change it as often as you like – but keep a copy with your will so the executors know where to find it. You could include photographs to identify items if you think that is necessary.

Leaving personal gifts is a good way to honour somebody who has touched your life – they don’t need only to go to close family and friends. Even a small gift will mean that the beneficiary knows how much you appreciated them.

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