Britons left over £3.1 billion to charities in their Wills according to new figures.
The biggest beneficiaries were health and cancer charities, with the British Heart Foundation, Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK amongst the top five groups for donations made in Wills. Other organisations benefitting substantially included the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the RSPCA.
This is part of a trend in increasing numbers of charitable donations, with more and more individuals choosing to include such bodies as beneficiaries in their Wills. The UK has seen a year-on-year increase over the past five years with the number of estates making bequests up from 7,490 in 2010-11 to 9,970 in 2015-16, with an increase in total donations rising from £1.5 billion to £3.1 billion over the same period.
While many people choose to make cash donations as part of their Will, investigations showed that some also decided to leave other valuable items including land, houses and paintings to charities. Those who own businesses will in some cases instruct executors to sell off their company after their death and donate the proceeds to an organisation of their choice or request that a share of their business is given instead.
In explaining the rise in charitable giving in the UK, some have pointed to the increase of high profile philanthropy reported in the US, with famous business people such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett becoming as well known for their charity work as for their commercial dealings.
The most significant increase revealed by these figures is in the amount donated by wealthy individuals. The number of charitable bequests valuing over £1 million rose by 27.1 per cent in 2015-16 compared to data for the previous year, increasing from 2,855 to 3,630. There have also been some widely reported instances of high net worth individuals making substantial charitable donations as part of their Wills in recent years. Albert Gubay, the founder of Kwik Save, donated £700 million to a charitable foundation in 2016, while Steve Morgan, founder of housebuilder Redrow, donated £230 million.
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