Leaving a legacy in your will
It’s natural that, as you get older, you begin to think about the legacy that you will leave behind in the world.
For some people, legacies are spiritual: they are the values and family histories that you pass down to your children and your grandchildren, who will continue to keep them alive. But for some people, financial legacies are also important.
Essentially, a financial legacy is a gift that you leave to a person, charity or other institution in your will. This legacy can take a range of forms: for instance, it could be a lump sum of cash, valuable belongings or antiques, or property. But how exactly do you choose who will receive your legacy?
Leaving a legacy to charities and museums
Many people decide to leave part of their money or estate to their relatives and the rest to a charitable foundation or institution that means a lot to them. For instance, many cancer patients and their relatives choose to leave a legacy to cancer charities, like Cancer Research UK, to continue their good work. Or, if you have been homeless in your lifetime, you may wish to leave money to charities that help the homeless, like Shelter. The website Remember A Charity offers more information on leaving a charitable legacy and may help you choose an organisation if you’re undecided.
Alternatively, if you’re a keen collector of valuable objects – whether it’s art, books, antiques, stamps, coins or other collector’s items – you may wish to leave them to a gallery, museum or library, where other enthusiasts will get to enjoy them as much as you. If you don’t stipulate what to do with these items in your will, they may end up being given away or auctioned off, so it may give you valuable peace of mind to leave them as a legacy to a body that will cherish them as you have done.
If you’re not a collector but you enjoy visiting cultural attractions, you can also choose to leave them a lump sum as a legacy instead. Many leading museums, galleries and libraries, like the British Museum, offer detailed advice and contact details if you wish to leave them a legacy. The V&A Museum in London also provides a suggested wording for your will.
Family legacies for you and your loved ones
If education is close to your heart, you may wish to leave a monetary legacy to your grandchildren so they have the funds to go to university, should they choose to do so when they’re older. If your grandchildren are now adults or you don’t have offspring, you could also choose to set up a scholarship body as your legacy, so young people that can’t afford higher education have access to funds.
Similarly, if a loved one in your life has passed away or become ill, you may wish to set up a charity in their name as your legacy. So, rest assured that there are a multitude of options available to you. Simply take some time to consider what you’re passionate about and how you’d like to make your mark on the world before taking a decision. Your solicitor can help you with the finer points when you write your will, and you can find more information on leaving charitable legacies from HMRC.
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