Legacy income 'could rise by £50m' after increase in death rate

There were 30,000 more deaths in 2016 than the Office for National Statistics had predicted

Legacy giving
Legacy giving

Legacy donations could increase by as much as £50m over the next two years because of an unusually high death rate in 2016, according to the charity legacy consortium Legacy Foresight.

More than 595,000 people died during 2016, 30,000 more than the Office for National Statistics had predicted, Legacy Foresight said today.

November was a particularly deadly month, with 6,000 more deaths than expected, making the death rate 13 per cent higher than the November average.

Charities are usually notified that someone has left them a bequest about five to six months after the person’s death – which, Legacy Foresight says, means there is likely to be a bump in the number of notifications during the coming spring.

Meg Abdy, director of Legacy Foresight, said: "We estimate that the higher-than-expected number of deaths in 2016 will mean £50m more legacy income over the next two years, bearing in mind that some large legacies take several years to pay out." But this was only a rough estimate, she warned. 

Legacy income was £2.56bn in 2015, previous figures from Legacy Foresight have showed.

The consortium said that many of its clients had received more legacies than expected throughout 2016, because the number of deaths in June and August, which normally have the lowest mortality figures, was well above average.

Tim Yates, an analyst at Legacy Foresight, said: "As yet there are no clear explanations for November’s increase in deaths. Other recent death spikes have been attributed to weather effects, ineffective flu vaccines or just natural month-to-month variation, and some combination of those factors is likely to have been the cause on this occasion.

"The picture is likely to become clearer over the coming months and we will continue to monitor the topic closely."

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