'Keep in contact with will donors'

Charities should keep in touch with people who have pledged a legacy to them in case the will is disputed

Legacy giving
Legacy giving

Charities should maintain regular contact with people who have pledged a legacy to them in case the will is later disputed, a partner at Wilsons solicitors told delegates yesterday.

In a session entitled The Great Legacy Debate, Fiona Campbell-White, who specialises in contesting wills on behalf of charities, said the number of contested wills was increasing.

She said that if charities could show they had regular contact with someone who had left them a legacy, it could make a "massive difference".

"Ensure you retain contact - that is critical," said Campbell-White. "I know it is about striking the balance, but I have worked on a number of cases where I have been able to get a better deal for the charities because they could show a link with deceased."

She highlighted a case when the RSPCA lost a legal battle against Christine Gill, whose parents had left their £2m estate to the charity. The parents had apparently had no contact with the charity, she said, which counted against it in court.

Mark Astarita, director of fundraising at the British Red Cross, said his charity was investing millions in legacy fundraising.

"There will be a significant rise in the number of people dying in the near future and this 'baby boomers' generation has 70 per cent of the UK's wealth," he said.

- Read more on this year's IoF National Convention

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