Specialist lawyers in estates and wills in Australia are being encouraged to ask clients if they would like to include a gift to charity in their will – but some are concerned about bringing it up. According to Include a Charity (IaC), 65% of Australians said it was OK to ask the question. Reports estimate that charities could receive at least $1 billion more each year if lawyers took the time to ask their clients if they would consider charitable bequests.
Charitable gifts are a good idea
According Principal lawyer at KCL Law, Jennifer Maher, this tactic works well.
“Where I have raised leaving gifts in wills for charities, it is very well received, more often well received by those who are a child-free couple or who have a well-known relationship or history with a charity,” Maher shared with LawyersWeekly. “Clients appreciate that a gift can be made which would not affect the moral obligation to their beneficiaries, which allows them to leave a small legacy.”
IaC’s research suggested that a third of Australians indicated they would consider including a bequest to their favourite charity. However, only 1 in 12 currently do, because “solicitors rarely ask clients about charitable bequests.”
Maher said some lawyers may not be “versed in the practise of philanthropic giving,” and also suggested that there is a lack of understanding as to how to provide philanthropic benefits under a will.
Australia behind the UK
According to IaC, gifts in wills are often a primary source of funding for many charities. However, figures from the latest Pareto Fundraising benchmarking analysis suggested that bequests accounted for only 20% of fundraising income in 2018.
A U.K. study indicated the number of charitable gifts increased from 4.9% to 10.8% when solicitors actually asked clients about philanthropic gifts. Research from IaC showed that donations in wills in Australia are about 10 years behind the U.K.
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