Leaving a Legacy in Your Will

What a will is for 

Why should I make a will?
How do I make a will?
What are the different kinds of bequests?
How can I provide for my pets?
How do I leave a gift to charity?


Why should I make a will?

No-one likes to think about their own death, and often put off making a will for that reason. But Making a will is important. You are never too young to make a will. You do not have to be rich to make a will. And, you will not die any sooner, just because you make a will!

Making a will is the only way to be sure that your family, friends, loved ones, your pets and the causes you support are remembered and provided for in the way you wish, after you die. If you die without having made a will (known as dying 'intestate'), your assets will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy - and this may be very different from how you would have chosen. Leaving a will also reduces the worry for your loved ones. If there is no will, families are often left to deal with tricky legal issues such as inheritance tax, which just adds to the stress of an already difficult time. The simple act of making a will ensures peace of mind for you, and for your loved ones.


Making a will ensures peace of mind for you, and for your loved ones

How do I go about making a will?

It is advisable to have your Will drawn up by a solicitor. Although there are do-it-yourself wills available, if you want be sure that your words are not misinterpreted, and that your wishes are carried out exactly as you meant them, it is always best to use a professional. A solicitor will also be aware of the most up to date legislation and tax laws, to maximise the value of your estate.

Making a will isn't necessarily expensive, and you can ask different solicitors for a quote. Some of the larger charities offer free will-drafting services, with the hope that you leave something to them in your will, (although you are not obliged to do so).


Preparing to make a will

Billy from Kirkby cat rescue homedPrepare for making your will before seeing a solicitor, to save time (and money):

(1) Make a list of everything you own (your 'assets') and their approximate value, (i.e. house, car, bank accounts, bonds, shares, pension benefits, insurance policies and any personal possessions of value). Then make a list of what you owe (mortgage, loans, credit cards etc). Taking one from the other will give you a rough value of your estate.

(2) Make a list of names and addresses of people, and causes or organisations, who you want to remember (the 'beneficiaries'), and the types of gifts you might want to leave them (see 'Different Types of Bequests' below). Beneficiaries usually include family and friends, and often charities or charitable organisations. If you have pets, please also make provision for them in your will (see "Making provison for your pets" below).

(3) You will need to name two people who you trust (with their agreement) to be your 'executors', who will ensure that your will is carried out. These can be family, friends, or a professional adviser such as your solicitor. It is usually advisable that your executors are younger than you.


Different types of bequests

"Pecuniary legacy" - A gift of a specific amount of money.
"Residuary legacy" - A gift of the residue or part of the residue of your estate.
"Specific legacy" - A gift of a specific item, (e.g. jewellery, paintings, etc.)

(Sample wordings for these different types of bequest appear at the bottom of the page.)


Making provision for your pets

Ella from Peterborough Cat Rescue homedPlease don't forget to make provision in your will for any pets who you may leave behind. There are three ways to do this:

(1) Nominate a guardian (usually a friend or family member), who has agreed to care for your pets in the event of your death, ideally leaving them an amount in your will to help towards the costs. It is advisable to also state a second person in case your first named guardian is unable to carry out your wishes.

(2) Leave a legacy to an animal rescue organisation, stating your wish that they care for or re-home any pets you may have at the time. You should contact the rescue organisation(s) before drafting your will, to check their policies and whether they are able to comply with such an arrangement.

(3) Create a Trust for you pet(s) within your will. It is particularly advisable to consult a will writing professional, if you choose to set up a Trust.


We will all leave this world one day.
You can leave the world a better place, by leaving a gift to charity in your will.

Leaving a gift to charity in your will

Daisy from Cat Action Trust 1977 homedRemembering a Charity in your will simply involves including a short paragraph in your will. If you have already made a will, you can still add a bequest to a Charity, by attaching a codicil to your will. A codicil is a simple document stating your additional wishes, which must be signed and witnessed. Monetary gifts left to a Charity in a will are usually exempt from tax, so that the whole of the gift goes to the Charity. We will all leave this world one day. You can leave the world a better place, by leaving a gift to charity in your will.

Following a recent case, where a relative successfully contested a legacy left to several charities, it is advisable to include a line explaining why you chose a particular charity(ies). Your solicitor will be able to guide you on this.

Should you wish to remember Cat Chat, the Cat Rescue Resource in your will, you will be helping us to continue to find loving homes for unwanted and abandoned cats and kittens, long after your death. Legacies really are the last - and most lasting - gift that you can give. If you are drafting your own will, examples of the wording you can use for the different kinds of legacy, appear under 'Sample Wordings' below.


After you have made your will

There are two important things to remember after you have made your will:

(1) Let your loved ones, and the executors named in your will, know where to find your will in the event of your death. You can usually elect to leave the original with the solicitor who drew it up for you, and keep a copy at home.
(2) Keep your will up to date. It is a good idea to review your will once every couple of years or so, to update it with any changes to your circumstances or your wishes. If the original copy of your will is held with a solicitor, be sure to advise them of any important changes.


Leaving a Legacy is the last - and most lasting - gift you can give

Sample wordings

Squeak from the Demanding Cat Rescue homedPecuniary Legacy
I give the sum of £_________ (in figures and words) to Cat Chat, the Cat Rescue Resource (Registered Charity No. 1100649) of care of the Treasurer, PO Box 358, Ramsgate, Kent, CT12 6YP, for charitable purposes. I declare that the receipt of the Treasurer or other duly authorised officer of the charity shall be a full and sufficient discharge to my executors.

Residuary legacy
I give the whole (or a ______ share) of my estate to Cat Chat, the Cat Rescue Resource (registered charity number 1100649) of care of the Treasurer, PO Box 358, Ramsgate, Kent, CT12 6YP for charitable purposes. I declare that the receipt of the Treasurer or other duly authorised officer of the charity shall be a full and sufficient discharge to my executors.

Specific legacy
I give my [short description of item here] to Cat Chat, the Cat Rescue Resource (registered charity number 1100649) of care of the Treasurer, PO Box 358, Ramsgate, Kent, CT12 6YP for charitable purposes. I declare that the receipt of the Treasurer or other duly authorised officer of the charity shall be a full and sufficient discharge to my executors.


"Thank you" to those cat-lovers who remembered Cat Chat in their wills;
Every time another cat is homed, we remember you too.

Cats Needing Homes UK and Ireland