Legacy giving in wills has surged, says legal services provider

The number of people leaving donations to charities in their wills has jumped by 56% in the past 12 months compared with a year earlier, according to a legal services provider.

Co-op Legal Services said its own business data shows that legacy giving rose particularly strongly in the early days of the coronavirus lockdown – and that people are increasingly choosing to help local good causes in their wills.

It found that there was an 81% increase in the number of people choosing to leave gifts to charities between March 23 and June 30 compared with the same period a year earlier.

Cancer charities topped the list for the third year running, when looking at the most common causes UK adults are choosing to leave gifts to.

In the past year alone, legacy giving to cancer charities has increased by more than three-quarters (77%), according to Co-op Legal Services.

The types of causes people are choosing to leave gifts to has also seen a shift.

Local causes have seen a significant increase in donations in the past 12 months, making them the second most common charitable cause that UK adults are now choosing to leave gifts to, according to the Co-op’s figures.

Animal charities are the third most popular good cause, it found.

The Co-op, which offers a will writing discount for those remembering charities in their final wishes, said gifts left to charities in the past 12 months have included a classic Mini, a guitar collection, dental equipment and a bar of gold.

James Antoniou, head of wills for Co-op Legal Services, said: “Interestingly, in addition to monetary gifts, we’ve seen some unique personal effects such as a collection of guitars and a classic red Mini being left to charity through wills.

“This increase in generosity will make a huge difference to charitable causes and just shows why it’s so important for people wanting to make this difference that they do put a will in place.”

Here are the 10 most popular good causes the Co-op’s clients are leaving gifts to:

1. Cancer charities

2. Local causes/communities

3. Animal charities

4. International charities

5. Children’s charities

6. Hospices

7. Rescue organisations

8. Religious causes

9. Poverty and homelessness

10. Help for the elderly