Include Animal Charities In Your Legal Last Will and Testament

Introduction

Most animal charities can only afford to keep running because of people who include them in their last will and testament. If you want to make sure you keep on helping to protect and save animals from suffering after your death, make last will an testament that gifts money to animals charities.

There are tax benefits to leaving a legacy, as legacies are exempt from inheritance tax.

Even if you only have a little to leave to animal charities, any amount is gratefully received. Animal charities do not receive any Government funding, nor do they receive any money from the National Lottery, which is reserved for ‘people’ charities. Without legacies willed to them, animal charities can not survive.

Be aware that in some countries, family members – even estranged ones – can challenge the will.

Read on to find out more.

Image: Bequest a legacy to an animal charity. Source

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Warning: Family Can Challenge Your Will

In a recent court case, a lady had left all her money to animal charities, but her estranged daughter, whith whom the lady had not had a relationship with for many decades, challenged the will, saying she had not been adequately provided for. The lady had made it very clear in her will that she did not want her daughter to get any of the money and explicitly instructed the executors of her will to fight any claim her estranged daughter might make after her death.

She won £50,000, but was not happy with that, so challenged the will again and won half of the half a million. The animal charities challenged the ruling and the amount to be awarded to the estranged daughter was reduced back to £50,000.

The fight for the money will have eaten in to the amount willed considerably.

This serves as a warning to make sure you talk to your solicitor about how to make your will so it will avoid such a situation, or at least to fight it if it happens.

Image: Heather Ilott has been embroiled in a decade-long battle with animal charities about the proceeds of her mother’s will. Source

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That was a simplified version of what has happend, but here are the details:

  • 2002: Melita Jackson makes her last will with a letter explaining she had disinherited her only daughter after she walked out of the family home in 1978 to live with her boyfriend
  • 2004: Mrs Jackson dies, aged 70
  • 2007: Heather Ilott challenges the will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act and is awarded £50,000 on the basis she had been “unreasonably” excluded, but when she applies for a larger share of the money, a High Court judge reverses the decision to award it to her in the first place
  • 2011: The Court of Appeal rules Mrs Ilott is entitled to a share of the money after all
  • 2014: Mrs Ilott loses a battle to get a larger share of the money at the High Court
  • 2015: The decision was successfully challenged at the Court of Appeal and Mrs Ilott is awarded £164,000
  • 2017: Three animal charities set to benefit from the majority of Mrs Jackson’s estate win a Supreme Court challenge, resulting in Mrs Ilott’s sum being reduced to the original £50,000

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Go To A Reputable Solicitor or Official Will Writer

It is strongly advised to go to a qualified and reputable solicitor or will writer to help you with your will. If you do not have a legally binding will when you die, the law will decide what happens to your estate. If that happens, it is certain that animal charities will get nothing. None of us know when we will die, so being prepared could mean the difference between you being able to help animals after your death or not.It is not enough to just tell your family and friends of your intention to leave a gift to a charity after you are gone.

If you already have a will, your solicitior can asssist you in adding a codicil (a short amendment) that mentions the type of gift and the name of the animal charities that you would like to benefit from it.

To include charities in your will, you will need to know the full name and charity number of the organisations.  You can either find this on their website, or by searching the Charity Commission website.

For further information on the legal terms used around legacies and wills, visit the Remember A Charity website.

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Tax Benefits Of Leaving A Legacy

Legacies are exempt from inheritance tax  – which is set at 40% at the time of writing this – so if your estate value is over the exempt threshold, it may help reduce the amount of tax that needs to be paid on it that would otherwise go to the Government.

In April 2012, a reduced rate of inheritance tax of 36 per cent was introduced for estates leaving 10 per cent or more to charity.

Up to date information on current inheritence tax rates and threshholds can be found here.

Image: Carry on helping animals after your death. Source

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Asking For Legacies For Your Animal Charity

If you know of an animal charity who is not currently promoting the idea of supporters leaving legacies, but feel they could be helped by bequests, you can direct them to this information.

They may also find this site helpful, as it has tips on promoting legacies.

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Learn More About Animal Cruelty And The Many Ways To Help Stop It

On this site there are many varied ways you can help stop animal cruelty, and there are ways  that will suit everyone, no matter what their personality.

If you would like to learn more about why we so urgently need to help stop animal suffering, please have a look at the Types Of Animal Cruelty section of this site. It will allow you to broaden your knowledge of many different types of animal abuse that happens in the world.

Sadly, what you will find is only the tip of the iceberg, but do not worry, because in the Help Stop Animal Cruelty section of this site, you can find a large and varied choice of ways that you can help stop the suffering. Have a look and see what ways would most suit you.

Help animals further by sharing the ways to stop animal cruelty you learn with other people. Doing this could mean more people help stop the cruelty, and therefore you are responsible for more animals being saved from suffering.

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