A guide to leaving a gift in your Will

Walkers on Corn Du in the Brecon Beacons National Park. © Paul Harris

Walkers on Corn Du in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Small or large, every gift we receive in a Will makes a vital contribution to our work. But how do you go about arranging it?

Here's a quick summary on what to do next:

1) The first step is to talk to a solicitor or professional advisor
If you don't already have a Will, a solicitor will be able to draft one for you. This is usually inexpensive and vital if you want to make sure that everything is done correctly. By having a proper Will in place you can be sure your wishes will get carried out – from providing for your loved ones through to leaving a gift to your favourite charity. Even if you already have one, it's easy for the solicitor to add your gift by using what's known as a 'codicil'.

2) Now it's time to think about what you're going to leave
You can discuss this when you meet with your solicitor. However, it's well worth thinking about it beforehand. What you'll need to consider are the things you own e.g. your property, possessions and investments and the things you owe e.g. your mortgage, loans etc. That way you'll have a clear idea about how much you have and who you'd like to leave it to.

3) How would you like to make your gift to us?
Once you've made provision for your loved ones, you can then look at how you'd like to make your gift. You can either leave a specific amount of money, which is known as a Pecuniary Bequest or a share of what's left over after all your wishes have been carried out, which is a Residuary Bequest.  Rather than leaving a precise sum of money, many choose to leave a percentage or the residue of their estate as it means that its value will not be affected by inflation. 

Most people make a gift in one of the ways shown below. If you’d like to give in one of these ways, and want to know what wording to use in your Will.

A straightforward gift to where the need is greatest. This is how the majority of our members choose to remember the National Trust. It’s straightforward because your gift is treated as ‘general funds’ and used wherever the need is greatest at the time. For example, we might use it for everything from general maintenance to a new acquisition.

A gift to a specific property, region, campaign or area of our work. Here are just some ideas to start you thinking:

  • Is there a property or a garden that holds fond memories for you?
  • Perhaps you shared wonderful times there with your family?
  • Or you just loved walking along a certain stretch of land owned by us?
  • Do you feel passionately about one of our campaigns? E.g. our long-term appeals for places like the Lake District or our Neptune Coastline Campaign.

A gift of an item(s). Occasionally, people leave us an item of value like a painting or piece of furniture. If you are thinking of leaving any specific item, please do give the legacy team a call and we can discuss your wishes.

Leave a gift of life membership. Why not pass on your enjoyment of the National Trust to someone special  – possibly your child or grandchild – by giving them the gift of life membership? Please just bear in mind that these types of gift are not free from inheritance tax.

4) Make sure you're word perfect
In any Will, it's essential that the wording is legally sound and that there's no chance that it might be misconstrued. That's where your solicitor will prove invaluable. To help, we've included some draft wording in our downloadable guide.

5) It's all in the execution
Your executors are the people who will be in charge of making sure your wishes are carried out. It’s worth thinking carefully about who you appoint as your executors. They can be friends or family, or professionals like a solicitor. In certain instances we can also perform the role for you e.g. if you’re thinking about making the National Trust a major beneficiary. However, it does place an extra administrative burden on our resources and we prefer to concentrate on looking after the places and spaces you care about.

6) We’d like to thank you

Leaving a gift in your Will is a very personal gesture and we appreciate that some people prefer to keep these things private. However, we’d really like to thank you for your kindness and show you what you’ll be helping us to achieve. You’ll also have the opportunity to experience behind-the-scenes access to our properties, speak to some of our conservation experts about their work and receive our special biannual newsletter. So please, do get in touch with our friendly team on 01793 817505.