Legacy income is still falling, but the rate of decline is slowing, according to research published today by Legacy Foresight.
The figures show that the value of legacy donations fell by 1.2 per cent in the 12 months to March 2010, the smallest year-on-year decline since the start of 2009.
The 42 charities that are members of the legacy monitor research programme consortium received total legacy income of £883m in the year to March 2010. This was £11m down on the same period last year and £30m below the March 2008 peak.
But the latest results are much better than the 3.3 per cent decline in the year to December 2009.
Meg Abdy, director of Legacy Foresight, said that the growth in house prices and the increasing value of equities were the main factors behind the more promising trends in legacy income.
"They are both very important to the legacy sector, particularly for residual bequests, which account for about 85 per cent of legacy income," she said.
The average value of residual bequests - where the remainder of an estate is given to charity after specific sums have been given to particular beneficiaries - has now stabilised at about £52,000.
Legacy Foresight is predicting that positive growth rates for legacies will return in the second half of 2010.
"The bounce-back won't be as dramatic as it has been, but we're expecting to see more growth in house prices and a reasonably stable stock market," said Abdy.
Cash legacy gifts to charities, meanwhile, are rising at about 7 per cent a year. They average £3,500.