Leave a legacy

Why a will is so important?

Almost everyone has something of value to leave behind. It is therefore important to make a Will and ensure that the estate you have built up in life goes to the people you most love and care about. Your family and close friends will usually come first and after that perhaps one or more of your favourite charities. Without a Will the law, through what are called the Intestacy Rules, will decide what happens to your estate. By making a Will you exercise your free choice on whom to benefit and by how much.

Do I need a solicitor?

'Do it Yourself' wills, including ones you can purchase from shops, can cause problems if not completed accurately. These problems could be expensive to fix and might even mean your will is invalid.

Seek the help of your solicitor

To give you peace of mind it is best to have your Will made out by a solicitor. It need not cost a great deal and you can obtain a quotation in advance. A solicitor will offer friendly advice and deal with any legal queries you may have. If you wish, he or she will be able to act as your executor along with a member of your family or trusted friend. Most solicitors are happy to make home visits if asked.

By what ever means you make your Will you must appoint executors to carry out your wishes. Two is the usual number but you can have up to four. You will also require two witnesses and you must all be together when your Will is signed.

How to choose a solicitor

It can be difficult to choose from the hundreds of solicitors available, particularly if you do not have a local contact. The Law Society can provide a list of local solicitors:

In England and Wales, go to lawsociety.org.uk, or call 020 7242 1222.

In Scotland, contact the Law Society of Scotland at lawscot.org.uk or call 0131 226 7411.

In Northern Ireland, contact the Law Society of Northern Ireland at lawsoc-ni.org or call 028 9023 1614.

Leaving a bequest to the Fund

Any gift you leave to a charity such as the BT Benevolent Fund will be exempt from Inheritance Tax and this could help to reduce or eliminate this tax liability on your estate if it exceeds the threshold. The tax threshold and rates of tax are generally changed in the Budget each year. Therefore, if you are concerned about the implications for your estate, you should consult your solicitor or an accountant.

The three main ways of leaving to the Fund a gift are:-

  • Pecuniary Legacy- which is a fixed sum of money
  • Specific Bequest- which is a selected item(s) such as a painting, collection of books or house etc
  • Residuary Bequest - which is the balance of your estate after all debts, taxes, expenses and other legacies have been paid

With the passage of time pecuniary legacies will lose value because of inflation and you may wish either to index-link your cash gifts to family, friends and charity or divide your whole estate into shares or percentages so that all of your beneficiaries will gain if the value of your estate increases between making your Will and your death.

Getting it right

If you do decide to support the Fund in your Will we suggest the following wording be used by you or your solicitor.

"l give, devise and bequeath to the BT Benevolent Fund, Charity Registration No.212565 the sum of £ . . . . . . ( . ‘in words’ . pounds) or the whole (or a . . . . share) of my residuary estate for its general charitable purposes and I declare that receipt of the Treasurer or other proper Officer of the Fund shall be a sufficient discharge therefore”

If you have already made a will

You may have already made a will but still wish to help our work. You can do this by adding a simple codicil to your will. Your signature must be witnessed by two people who must be present together and must sign the codicil in your presence. It is also important that you do not ask somebody to be a witness if they will also benefit from your will as this might invalidate the codicil.

Your solicitor is the best person to advise how the codicil should be precisely worded. When it is completed, a copy should be placed with your will so that they are both read at the same time.

What about my funeral costs?

Funeral expenses will be paid from your estate so it is sensible to allow a sum for this. Your solicitor will be able to advise you. You can also state if you wish to be buried or cremated, together with any other particulars of the kind of funeral you would wish.

Keep your Will safe

As a rule your solicitor will offer to retain your Will in the firm's strong room after giving you a copy to keep at home. If you decide to keep the original yourself make sure it is in a secure place and that someone you trust knows where to find it.

Explaining the jargon

The terms used for legacies and wills can be confusing; click here for our jargon-busting guide.

Further information

If you need any help or feel you need to discuss your intentions with the Fund, please contact the Manager by phone, letter or email.