Over 38k charitable estates were found in wills in 2023 – report

38,178 charitable estates were found in wills in 2023, the highest number recorded since tracking sector data in 2012, according to Smee & Ford’s annual trends report.

The 2023 figure is the highest number of charitable estates recorded. The years 2019 and 2020 were impacted by processing and system changes at the HMCTS and the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021 and 2022 we saw numbers recover to over 37k per annum, but this is the first time we have seen numbers surpass the 38,000 threshold.

In 2023, there were 581,367 deaths. Over half of annual deaths have exceeded 300,00. There were 277,746 grants issued in 2023, of which Smee and Ford identified 38,178 cases where at least one charitable organisation was mentioned in the will. This number represents 13.7% of the number of grants issued.

However, many cases that are included in these figures for probated estates do not have wills and are therefore intestate. When excluding intestate cases, the proportion that are charitable increases to 14.9%. Turning the attention to the total number of deaths recorded by the ONS in 2023, 6.6% of people in the population of England and Wales mention a charitable organisation in their will.

What’s more, in 2023, reported legacy income reached £3.5bn and they estimate total legacy income is more than £3.9bn, the largest total that they have reported. The value of charitable estates increased by £1.2bn from £21.4bn to £22.6bn, a growth of 7%-  the second-time values have exceeded £20bn

You can download a copy of the latest Legacy Trends Report here. 

One Response

  1. I’m involved in a contentious probate in which a property owner died while still fighting to regain her home in an undue influence case. In her will she had left 6 figure sums to 3 big charities but at her death there was no money left for her executors to continue to fight the case.
    Would one of those charities help out, or do any solicitors do pro bono work?

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