Where there’s a Will…

Author: Geoff Freeman

Published on: 8 October 2015

Every year many thousands of people die without leaving a Will.

This means that a court will decide how to divide their estate and who should look after any dependants, often causing additional upset and expense for love ones left behind. Making a Will and keeping it up to date is the only way church members can make provision for people and causes they love. This is simply good stewardship – and it may be easier and less expensive than people imagine.

Why a PCC should consider Wills and Legacies

Each year around 5,000 parishes across England benefit from a legacy. For many people, leaving a gift in their Will is a final opportunity to say thank you to God for his blessings to them. It is also a way to make a lasting difference to the future of their church and community.

Many churches have not considered this topic at all. They have not thought through the connection between Christian stewardship and gifts in Wills, nor developed a policy on how to use money donated through legacies. The new leaflet (pictured right) aims to help your PCC consider these issues.

Encouraging church members to leave a gift in their Will is important, but encouraging them to write a Will is even more so. Ever since the first edition of the Book of Common Prayer, the Church has highlighted the importance of making Wills and keeping them up-to-date.

A Policy on legacies

The policy might be something like:

We welcome gifts in Wills and our policy is to use them to fund significant development projects in the parish, whether buildings, equipment or staff.

As circumstances change over the years, it may not be possible to fulfil specific donor requests, so church members are encouraged to leave gifts in their Wills for the general purposes of the parish. The PCC will discuss with executors the most appropriate use of the gift in the light of current projects and the donor’s known areas of interest in the church (eg children & youth, music, buildings).

Promoting Legacies

Legacies can make a vital difference to a parish’s local mission and ministry, whether used for additional staffing or to improve church buildings and facilities.

The aim should be to help people see writing a Will and reviewing it regularly as part of their everyday Christian discipleship.

Gifts in Wills should be seen as a natural part of Christian giving, but promote them in a sensitive, low-key manner, drip-feeing messages in different ways across the year.

A new leaflet ‘A Short Guide to Encouraging Giving through Legacies’ may help you. It can be downloaded from our website or contact Geoff Freeman on 01603 882328.

Remember many legacies received are from people who do not attend or have any connection with the church. Perhaps at some time in their life they have had contact with the church, possibly a wedding or baptism or maybe special memories-we will never know.

Making a will is good stewardship and gives the donor peace of mind knowing that their personal affairs are in order and their wishes after their death will be followed.

The author...

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Geoff Freeman

Parish Funding Support Officer

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