It also shows that some causes attract legacies from a higher proportion of their supporters than others.
The survey of 1,716 charity supporters found that 79 per cent of them had written their wills and 35 per cent had made bequests to charities. Supporters polled were mainly aged between 50 and 85.
The research was done by Richard Radcliffe, legacy specialist with Smee & Ford. He said: "Maybe this proves the fact that the best prospects do not need will-writing advice - just advice on how to leave a legacy. But if 35 per cent of all charity supporters are already giving legacies, then this proves the potential with warm audiences."
Legacies are not evenly distributed between causes. A total of 43 per cent of supporters of overseas charities are committed to charitable legacies, compared with 30 per cent of donors to medical research charities. The figure falls to 13 per cent for legators who are supporters of health and healthcare charities.
Radcliffe said the results did not match the causal areas that currently benefit from legacies - a list that is topped by medical research charities.
"The fact that only 30 per cent of medical research charity supporters have put legacies in their wills is fascinating when you consider that 43 per cent of supporters of overseas charities have done the same," he said. "Especially given that overseas charities currently benefit from legacies made by less than 20 per cent of supporters."
Radcliffe said the kind of charities that were likely to benefit from legacies would change "very dramatically" in future, with less well funded charities, such as international development organisations, receiving a greater proportion of legacy income. "People are changing the way they give to charity both now and in their wills," he said.
- See Letters, page 13.