Legacies Roundup | December 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, this edition of BWB’s Legacies Roundup looks back on a busy and eventful year in charity legacies, and forward to what’s already promising to be another one with the introduction of GDPR.

Charity Legacies

Thank you all for your contribution and participation throughout the year. We wish you an enjoyable and restful Christmas and New Year, and look forward to seeing you in 2018.

New beginnings

This year we launched our partnership with the Institute of Legacy Management (ILM). Our first event in March on Encouraging legacies in a changing landscape looked at some of the key issues affecting legacy professionals, including GDPR, fundraising regulation, and best practice in legacy administration.

ILM also participated in our annual event in September in support of Remember a Charity in Your Will Week. This event brought together expertise from key sector speakers, including Meg Abdy from Legacy Foresight who looked at the importance of charity legacies and the likely implications of Brexit and a minority government.

Law Commission consultation on wills

In November we hosted and chaired a roundtable of leading legacy professionals to discuss the Law Commission’s consultation on wills and will drafting. This lively debate covered key issues such as testamentary capacity and fraud in will making, as well as the key issue of electronic wills, and led to the ILM’s response to the consultation on behalf of the charity sector. Whilst the Law Commission’s decision to consult on key reforms was welcomed, there was a general consensus among delegates at our roundtable that there ought to be much more focus on electronic wills so as to ensure as many people as possible take the opportunity to make a will – not least because without a will no charity can inherit.

Settling old scores

March saw the Supreme Court conclude the long-running case of Ilott v Mitson, by unanimously overturning the Court of Appeal’s six-figure award to the claimant (an adult child who was estranged from the testatrix), the effect of which had been to significantly reduce the gifts that the testatrix had left to three charities in her will. The Supreme Court reinstated the much smaller sum that had been awarded to the claimant by the District Judge at the initial court hearing almost 10 years ago.

At a time when charities are under ever-increasing pressure, the Supreme Court delivered a sensible and widely welcomed judgment that championed testamentary freedom and clarified that charities do not have to justify their position as beneficiaries.

The ruling was covered quite extensively in the media, including in Third Sector and Civil Society. BWB’s comments on the ruling can be found here.

Best practice

With Ilott finally done and dusted, in June we prepared a note on best practice for managing legacy disputes, setting out a series of practical steps charities should take to resolve disputes as quickly as possible while keeping costs and reputational damage to a minimum.

Looking to the future

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force in the UK and across the European Union on 25 May 2018, and will replace the current system under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). All organisations currently subject to DPA will very likely be subject to GDPR. This of course includes charities, and to ensure our clients are ready we are producing a series of events and other important updates, including Countdown to GDPR – 3 months to go and our GDPR factsheet available exclusively to ILM members. Do get in touch if you would like any further information on this, and to ensure you are signed up for key updates from our GDPR specialists.

This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of December 12, 2017.