Legators encouraged to do their research before giving to charity

A new database of charities will enable people making wills to research which organisations they would like to leave money to.

Legacies: few know where parents' wills are kept
Legacies: few know where parents' wills are kept

It is being developed by Certainty.co.uk, the company that has recently launched an online service for people to register their wills so they don't get lost. According to its research, 67 per cent of people do not know where their parents' wills are located.

From next year, the register will also include a charity portal, containing details of all UK charities. The portal is intended to help people decide which charities they would like to leave legacies to. They can access the portal themselves or with a regulated will writer.

"It will provide an easily accessible source of information about charities at the point of writing a will," said a spokeswoman for Certainty. "It is our firm belief that making it easier to bequeath money will result in charities receiving more."

The portal will contain basic details of each charity based on data Certainty intends to buy.

For an annual fee, charities will be able to add banners, logos and updates of their activities, and to edit their entries.

Users will be able to search for potential legacy recipients by name, the nature of their work, keywords or their location. Local charities can be found by searching for organisations within a certain radius of a testator's home.

"The philosophy behind the categories is to give equal visibility," said the spokeswoman. "It prompts you to think about the smaller and local charities that are just as valuable and equally needy."

The search facility will also enable solicitors to search for charities that have been left legacies in wills but which cannot easily be identified.

Richard Radcliffe, director of charitable legacy specialists Smee & Ford, said the will register was a sensible idea, but he doubted it would result in more money going to charities.

- See News Analysis, page 10.

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