Charities in Your Will

by Jacqui Brauman

Australians are a giving nation, with a long proud history of charitable giving – ranging from modest gifts on flag days to charitable trusts whose endowments now measure in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Many well-know charitable trusts have been established by Wills. These include Archibald Prize and the Miles Franklin Award. In addition, there are many significant trusts that make cash gifts to various charities.

Gift in WillThere are two broad purposes for which trusts can be set up. They can be set up for private purposes, for a specific beneficiary, or group of beneficiaries. These are very common, and include family discretionary trusts, unit trusts and various testamentary trusts that I’ve written about before.

A charitable trust, on the other had, is set up for a public purpose, rather than for an individual. The purposes that a charitable trust can be set up for includes the relief of poverty, the advancement of education, the advancement of religion, and other purposes beneficial to the community.

Either of these trusts can be set up whilst you’re alive, or in your Will.

The other way that you can leave a legacy to charity in your Will, other than setting up a trust, is to make a direct gift to a charity that has already been formed for a specific purpose, such as Guides Dogs, Cancer Council and Anglicare. For a full list of charities, click HERE.

It is preferable to leave a gift directly to charity in your Will, rather than introducing gifts for purpose which establish a charitable trust. You will need to be careful when selecting a solicitor, that they understand the difference, and if you really want to set up a charitable trust there are complex requirements that need to be met.

For example, you don’t want to accidentally set up a charitable trust for the purpose of someone looking after your pet after you die. It is preferable to leave a conditional legacy to someone to take care of the pet instead.

Likewise, if you want to leave some money for the purpose of funding research for finding a cure for cancer, you are better off finding an established charity that is already dedicated to that purpose, and giving them a gift. Accidentally creating a charitable trust in your Will when the legacy is not big enough could just result in a lot of the money disappearing on fees instead of going toward the true purpose that you want.

Importantly, you also don’t want your charitable trust to fail because requirements aren’t met, and then the legacy falls into your residue under your Will instead of the money being put towards the purpose that you intended.

If you need advice about giving a gift to charity, please email me, or visit this website.


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