The legacy market continues to grow as more and more individuals express a wish to leave a gift to charity in their will.
Charitable gifts currently account for around £3.5b a year in legacy income – precious money for charities, many of whom are facing the dual pressures of a huge increase in demand at the same time as their own costs rise at an unparalleled rate.
Legacy professionals such as solicitors and will writers play a key role in the process; from promoting the concept of leaving a legacy at the point a will is made, through to dealing with bereaved families and liaising with charities to ensure their gifts are delivered in a timely and appropriate fashion.
Working hard to ensure all the component parts come together as smoothly as possible are two organisations – Remember A Charity and the Institute of Legacy Management (ILM).
While the former focuses on inspiring people to leave a legacy gift to charities, the ILM concentrates on the gift itself and making sure the money is well spent for the benefit of the charity.
Besides supporting their own members – Remember A Charity is a consortium of some 200 charities and the ILM has over 650 members working in about 450 charities – both see their roles as influencers and lobbyists.
Matthew Lagden, CEO of the ILM, explains:
“The overriding goal for both of us is for the legal profession and the charity sector to have a harmonious relationship and support each other at every stage of the legacy process.
The added benefit is that by meeting in the middle, we can campaign on issues that affect us all and together we are now seen as the voice of legacies for the charity sector.
Our repository of expertise enables us to represent our respective members and provide essential feedback. If policymakers such as the Law Society, the Charities Commission or government want to talk to the charity sector about legacies, we are the bodies they come to.”
Lucinda Frostick, Director of Remember A Charity, agrees and adds:
“To some degree, our role is similar to that of a translator: ensuring that pertinent issues for the legal and charity sector are clearly understood on both sides of the table. For instance, if the Law Commission is revisiting how to regulate wills, we can bring that issue to the fore with our members and make sure they are aware of key discussions and that they have a representative voice in any consultation. Similarly, when charities have concerns, we can turn to our legal sector partners to convey those issues or for advice.
This is really important because it’s about ensuring people at both ends of the spectrum can work together as well as possible to ensure that legacy gifts go exactly where they were intended, and that people’s final wishes will be met.”
Although the experience of both bodies spans around two decades, it is only in the last five-plus years that they have worked so closely together to maximise their expertise and enhance the legacy environment.
Today, they can typically be found working on in-depth reports with industry specialists such as Legacy Foresight and Smee & Ford, and liaising with government on mutual challenges that inhibit legacy giving.
An important part of their role has been working with HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) with the aim of reducing probate processing delays. A combination of the pandemic, changes to working practices and an increase in incomplete grant applications, have all impacted on the time it takes for probate currently to be granted.
This not only slows down legacy income to charities but can make it much more difficult for charities to forecast when those gifts will arrive and how to budget most effectively.
HMCTS says the contribution of both Remember A Charity and the ILM has made a “significant difference” to its work in improving the probate service and although ongoing delays continue to be a concern, HMCTS has committed to increasing staff numbers, streamlining processes and ensuring it keeps the charity sector informed.
Looking ahead, both Matthew and Lucinda believe there is huge potential to grow the legacy sector through further collaboration, increased understanding and awareness.
“At Remember A Charity, we hugely value our strategic partnership with ILM. Ultimately, it’s vital for us to not only work efficiently and effectively, but to increase our impact and drive growth in the UK legacy market.
For charitable legacies to continue to be such a force for good, this relies on every part of the picture working as well as it can – from the charities that deliver inspiring legacy campaigns and stewardship through to our own high profile consumer awareness campaigns. From the way that charities approach and handle gifts from increasingly complex estates through to the wider public perception around charities and the way they are run.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Matthew, who added:
“It is through successful partnerships such as with Remember A Charity, and our excellent connections with experts and policy makers throughout the legacy and wider legal world, that we can continue to make a real difference to the way legacy giving is perceived.
We want solicitors and all legacy professionals to think positively about charities and to work together for the mutual benefit of all parties, ensuring that at the end of the day, the charity both receives and can make best use of the gift was it was intended.”
This article was submitted to be published by the Institute of Legacy Management as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills & Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills & Probate.