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Wills with Charity Beneficiaries

Before your client commits to leaving a charitable gift in their Will to a particular charitable cause, it is important to have the following information on the intended beneficiary:

• Correct legal name
• ABN number
• Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status

As a legal professional you will be only too aware of the need to correctly identify the rightful beneficiaries to be included in your clients’ Wills. Wrongly specified charities cause Executors legal headaches and long delays when the time comes to distribute the Estate. Organisations do change their names from time to time and join together to form new legal entities. Some organisations have similar names and aspirations. Many use more accessible, marketable or shortened trading names. This is why it is so important to verify a charity’s correct legal name before including it in a Will. Ideally the charity’s ABN number is also included in the clause.

If your clients are unsure of the full correct name or details of the charities they would like to support, our list of campaign supporters may help you to determine the right organisation. Clients may know the charity only by their trade name or an abbreviation rather than their correct legal name.

The right gift for your client

Understanding your client and their needs is one of the most crucial parts of the Estate planning process. We know from the Australian Tax Office, Volunteering Australia and from market research that most Australians will support charitable causes during their lifetime. This is important to them and we believe that it should be taken into account when preparing charity supporters’ Wills.

The following sample questions are easy ways for you to explore your clients’ thoughts about charitable giving and ensure that their philanthropic wishes are reflected in the Wills you prepare:

  • Many people make provisions in their Wills to help the charities or causes they have supported over the years, after they have provided for their families and loved ones. Is this something you would consider?
  • Are you interested in any particular cause or causes or have a particular interest that you would like to support by including a gift in your Will?
  • Many charities benefit from the generosity of people who leave a gift to them in their Will. Is this something you would like to do?
  • Are there any organisations or charities you care about, currently support or that are important to you and your family? If so, would like to support any of those charities or organisations by including a gift in your Will?