Leaving a legacy
Legacies are a vital source of funding which help to ensure the financial health and security of the College in the future. Many alumni and friends of Birkbeck have demonstrated their support to the College by choosing to remember Birkbeck in their will.
Why should I include Birkbeck in my will?
- Gifts left in wills are extremely important to the college, and will help ensure that future generations of students will benefit from the best facilities, resources and financial assistance packages. This can be achieved with your assistance so, please, remember Birkbeck in your will.
Does Birkbeck have a charity number?
- Birkbeck is an educational charitable and chartered corporation, exempt under the terms of the Charities Act 1993. Under the Charities Act 2006, universities are supervised by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) as principal regulator, who are charged with ensuring that the College fulfil their obligations under Charity Law and therefore, a legacy made in the UK will be exempt from inheritance tax.
What wording should I use in my Will?
- Birkbeck’s solicitors suggest the following wording:
- 'I give to the Governors of Birkbeck College (University of London), incorporated by Royal Charter, of Malet Street, London, WC1, the whole [or__%] of my residuary estate for the general purposes of the College, and I direct that the receipt of an authorised officer of the said College shall be a full and sufficient discharge to my personal representative(s).'
- Or, if you would prefer to include a fixed amount as opposed to a percentage, then the following words are slightly amended to incorporate this:
- 'I give to the Governors of Birkbeck College (University of London), incorporated by Royal Charter, of Malet Street, London, WC1, the sum of £X for the general purposes of the College, and I direct that the receipt of an authorised officer of the said College shall be a full and sufficient discharge to my personal representative(s).'
- The standard wording refers to the College’s general funds, to ensure that funds are directed where they are most needed at that time. However, if you wish to include a specific department or project please see question 4.
Is it best to leave a percentage of my estate or a fixed sum as a gift?
- Your personal circumstances may lead you to prefer one form over the other, for instance, if you are unsure of the value of your estate or if you are remembering several family members, friends and other charitable organisations in your Will.
- Should you wish to include a fixed sum, it would be helpful to include a note which results in your gift being index-linked, and so will not suffer a decrease due to inflation over time.
What happens if I want to leave my gift to a specific project rather than to general purposes?
- Should you prefer to remember a specific project or department in your Will we would ask that you inform us in advance of formalising your Will in order to ensure that that particular project or educational course is sustainable, and to ensure that the funding is put to the best possible use.
What happens after I’ve included Birkbeck in my Will?
- If you have chosen to remember Birkbeck in your Will, we would be most grateful if you would inform us of your decision, so that we may make a note of your intentions. This will enable us to formally thank and acknowledge you, but will also assist us in planning for the College’s financial future.
- You may also wish to send us a copy of your Will, so that we can assist in ensuring that your wishes are carried out.
- Please be assured that all information you provide to us will be treated in complete confidence.
What kind of recognition will I receive?
- Should you remember Birkbeck in your will, we would be pleased to formally recognise your gift, and will discuss this with you to find the most appropriate manner in which to do this. You will also receive invitations to events at the college.
Can Birkbeck act as the executor to my will?
- Birkbeck would be happy to act as the Executor to your Will, in conjunction with our own Solicitors, particularly if the college is the main beneficiary. However, this should not replace the relationship with your own solicitor when drawing up and validating your will, who will ensure that you receive the best legal advice, appropriate to your needs.
- Please do get in touch if you'd like to discuss this option with us.
Do I really need to contact a solicitor?
- Birkbeck strongly advise you to visit a solicitor when writing your will.
- You can visit the Law Society websitewhere you can search for qualified solicitors in your area.
- There is also a need to validate the will by having your witnesses counter-sign your will and it is often better to do this in the presence of a Solicitor.
- Many enquirers have asked about the ‘DIY’ Will-making packs; whilst these are indeed cheaper than visiting a solicitor, we have been advised that such wills often prove to be a false economy. It is perfectly possible to draw up your own will but even simple wills must comply with legal formalities and, if you are not familiar with legal terminology, just one mistake could invalidate the whole document. The best advice we can give is that you use a solicitor to draw up the Will. It is worth the expense to have peace of mind knowing that your wishes cannot be misinterpreted.
How much will making a will cost me?
- The solicitor's charges will usually depend on the complexity of your affairs and the time taken to draw up your Will. Don't be afraid to ask for an estimate in advance. A further tip is to go prepared to your meeting with your Solicitor. Ensure that your paperwork is in order, and that you have a list of all your possessions which make up your estate. There is a guide on how to estimate this in Birkbeck’s legacy brochure to assist you.
I already have a will. Am I allowed to change it or add to it?
- If the changes you wish to make to your will are not substantial, you may wish to add an additional sheet containing your new instructions to your existing will. This is called a codicil – there is an example in the legacy brochure.
- You may use a codicil to update or amend wishes, however, we strongly advise you to also visit your solicitor when including a codicil to your will, to ensure that your new instructions to not contradict or invalidate any earlier wishes.
Aren’t I too young to write a will?
- No matter what your age or situation in life, it is still important to make a will and to make preparations for your future. It is also important to regularly review your will, in accordance with your different life stages.
- Although no one likes to think about death, if you die without making a will, all or part of your possessions may go to the taxman – not necessarily to your partner or next of kin.
For further information on any of these issues, please do contact us.