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Leaving Gifts to Charity in Your Will: Recent Case Update

Posted on 04th July 2024 in Probate & Wills, Later Life Planning

Posted by

Emma McAdam

Solicitor
Leaving Gifts to Charity in Your Will: Recent Case Update

A recent High Court case has highlighted the need for clarity when leaving gifts to charities in Wills.

Background

Marjorie Thompson passed away in 2020, leaving behind a Will she had made in 2016. The Will specified that her estate should be distributed among fifteen different charities. However, there were issues with the way the charities were named in the Will. Some charities no longer existed, while others had undergone name changes or mergers since the Will was signed.

Legal Review

The High Court reviewed the Will to determine how the gifts to the charities should be applied. They considered several principles, including identifying the charities correctly and whether the principle of cy-près (redirecting gifts to similar purposes) could be applied. The Court aimed to understand the deceased’s intentions when drafting the Will.

Charity Identification

After careful consideration, the Court found suitable charities to fulfill all of the deceased’s gifts. Depending on the circumstances, the gifts could be paid to the relevant charity’s successor, creditors, or similar organisations.

Name Change or Merger Clause

The Court clarified that the clause barring charities from benefiting following a name change or merger only applied to changes made after the execution of the Will, not before.

Drafting Clear Wills

This case highlights the importance of clarity when drafting Wills, especially regarding charitable gifts. Executors should identify charities by their full registered name, address, and charity number, cross-referencing details with the Charity Commission to ensure gifts reach the correct recipients. This practice helps avoid unnecessary difficulties during estate administration.

Dryden v Young & Ors [2024] EWHC 1095 (Ch) (10 May 2024) (bailii.org)

How Tozers can help

Tozers can assist with drafting clear and precise Wills to ensure that your charitable gifts are properly identified and allocated. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support you in creating a comprehensive and legally sound Will.

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