Legacy income falls despite rising death rate

The legacy consortium Legacy Foresight says the value of estates has fallen following the Brexit referendum

The value of legacy income has fallen slightly in the year to 1 June 2017, but the number of bequests received has risen due to climbing death rates, Legacy Foresight has said.

Figures released by the charity legacy consortium Legacy Foresight in its Legacy Bulletin show that its 83 members’ legacy incomes fell by 1.1 per cent on the same period the year before, to £1.41bn.

But, it said, rising death rates had boosted the number of legacies being received and the total figure rose 3.2 per cent to 54,500 in the 12 months to 1 June compared to the year before.

The Legacy Bulletin said income from bequests had grown strongly in the first half of 2016, but had flattened off since the summer - when the vote on leaving the European Union was held.

Legacy Foresight's bulletin for the first quarter of 2017, published in May, also warned uncertainty following Brexit was impacting on the amount charities recived from wills.

Part of the problem, the latest bulletin said, was that the value of residual bequests - where people leave specific amounts of their estate to people in their lives and then whatever is left goes to charity - had fallen.

"Flagging house prices and jittery stock markets appear to have affected average residual values," the bulletin said.

"In the year to June 2017 average residual bequest values were £57,000; that’s a fall of 3.7 per cent on the record high of £59,100 in the year to June 2016 (the period leading up to the Brexit referendum)."

It said that if the economy followed expectations and slowed further over the next two or three years as the full details of the Brexit negotiations were developed and realised, this would further dampen the value of residual bequests.

Ultimately, it said, Legacy Foresight’s central market forecast suggests that legacy incomes will grow by 2.7 per cent a year over the next five years, which it said was "considerably slower than in recent years, but growth nonetheless".

Rebecca Cooney

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