Leaving a gift in your will

Holding hands - a childs hand in an older male hand
Ensuring everything is in order, from both a personal and legal view, is essential when creating a will that covers your best intentions.

Your clear intentions coupled with advice from a solicitor can go a long way in ensuring your Will is created the right way, so your wishes are followed exactly as you want long after you have passed.

As many as 45 percent of Australians do not have a valid will at the time of their death, this is known as to die intestate. Being intestate means the laws of the state or territory decide how the estate is administered. It’s important to know that without a will, the gifts you wanted to leave to your loved ones and favourite charities may not end up where you intended. 

Having a legal, up-to-date will detailing the gifts you wanted to make can also mean there’s far less confusion for your loved ones in their time of grief. It is also a generous way to donate to the people and organisations who have been supportive in the times of greatest need throughout your life.

How to leave a gift in your will to a charity

  1. Ensure your will is clear and unambiguous 
  2. Chose whether you will leave a Residual Gift or a Specific Gift
  3. Include the charity’s correct name and ABN
  4. Check with your solicitor that your will is valid
  5. Advise friends and family of your wishes
  6. Update the charity with your decision 

A way with words

When making a gift to a charity in your will, it’s essential the wording is correct and legal matters are in order to ensure your best wishes are carried out.

Two of the most effective ways to guarantee this is to have a solicitor draw up the will so all the finer details are taken care of, and to also follow the instructions of your chosen charity in how to make your generous gift.

“The more specific your will is with clear and unambiguous language in identifying all the assets you intend to gift, then the better it is for everyone in the long term,” says solicitor James Ballantyne of the Ballantyne Law Group. 

To make gifting easy, most charities include the correct wording they prefer to use on their website, so nothing is left to chance. In the case of The Kids’ Cancer Project, the wording can be found here.  

All in order

Making time to list down all your assets, complete with definitions, account numbers, ABN details and addresses, is a good first step. Then deciding how you want the estate divided demands careful consideration.

Some people know from the outset they want to include a gift in their Will to a favourite charity like The Kids’ Cancer Project, while others decide to do so later on. Either way is fine; it’s just a matter of having everything in order, James Ballantyne advises. 

“To make a change to your original Will, that amendment is called a Codicil,” James explains. 

“Basically, it is an additional document added to your original Will that allows minor amendments and is then signed off. This is something people often do later on when they decide to include a gift to a friend or a charity that has been close to them,” says James. 

While a Codicil is a legal document, James recommends creating an all-new Will incorporating any changes all in the one single document as the better way to go. 

“It just makes it a more straightforward process when it comes time to grant probate, and there’s far less chance of extra documents going missing,” he says. The cost difference between including a Codicil and an all-new Will is usually negligible.

A matter of trust

With a Will, it’s essential to have your intentions 100 percent clearly stated, instead of risking leaving an entire estate to a friend or family member with vague instructions for how you want it distributed.

“In that case, there’s no legal basis for that person to follow your instructions, and this is when things can go badly wrong,” James says. “If you don’t specifically mention the beneficiaries, it’s likely it won’t end up where you want. Remember, you can’t explain your Will after you’ve gone.”

There are other potential issues when a Will has not been updated, like stated gifts of property or fixed amounts of cash that had already been sold or spent.

“There are little nuances with Wills you need to be aware of, and each case is so different, but with a little guidance, it can be very easy to sort out,” Brenton Tong, Senior Financial Planner of Financial Spectrum, says. 

“Getting the right advice will give you peace of mind, and your estate will end up divided exactly as you intended.”

By leaving a gift in your Will to The Kids’ Cancer Project means you are leaving the greatest gift you could ever give – hope for a future free from childhood cancer.