What is a Bequest?

A bequest is a method of making a lasting gift to a cause or issue that you feel strongly about. It can make your caring last for future generations.

In order to ensure that your gift has lasting value it is important to structure the gift well. The following are points to think about when making a bequest.

Immediate or long term benefit?

Bequests can either be for immediate spending by an organisation or to create a fund that will enable income to benefit your cause or issue for the long term. If you wish the benefit to be long term consider whether the sum is sufficient for this to add value after administration costs have been met.

Naming a cause or an organisation

It is important to recognise that organisations will come and go. If you name an organisation that no longer exists at the time the bequest is realised there may be issues in distributing your bequest. Naming a cause with a preference for a particular organisation will allow your wishes to be better honoured.

What will the cause or organisation really need?

It is not unusual for organisations to have difficulty spending bequests that have rigid stipulations attached, especially where the activity or project stipulated does not fit with the operations of the organisation. For example funds left for research in an organisation that does not normally undertake such an activity may be difficult to spend.

Make allowances for changing social conditions

Social conditions at the time of making a will may not be the same at the time a bequest is realised. A good example is the existence of bequests to benefit orphanages which no longer exist because of changing social conditions (it may have been better to have made the bequest for disadvantaged children). It may be that an activity becomes government funded and there is no longer a need for funding of a community based charity. Naming the group that you wish to benefit will enable the funds to be used most effectively.

Consider writing a profile of your values and wishes

Such a document sitting alongside your will can be used to guide those administering the bequest and allow them to honour your wishes but allow a degree of flexibility within your will.

Think about your dependents

Bequests can be overturned by those who believe that they have a right to be provided for in your will. Consider very carefully any decision to benefit a charity in preference to dependents. Charities may prefer a smaller sum that will not be contested. Extended litigation could eat up your bequest and actually cause your bequest to become a cost rather than a benefit.

Take advice

If you have a community foundation in your area they are able to give advice on how to structure a bequest to ensure that your wishes are honoured. Your lawyer is also a good source of information in how to structure a bequest. Some organisations seeking bequests will have a standard format they will ask you to sign. It is wise to take professional advice before signing such a document.

Mangatowai Community Trust

The Mangatowai Community Trust is an organization that is willing to accept bequests which will be used for the on-going development and expansion of the Trustís activities

If you would like more information about the Trust and the range of activities it will become involved with you can check out the web site at http://www.mangatowai.maori.nz

or email the secretary at dna.goldsberry@yahoo.co.nz

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 This page was last reviewed on 14/11/2012.