What is a ‘legacy’?

In law, a ‘legacy’ is a gift made under a person’s Last Will and Testament, especially of money or personal property. Traditionally, this referred to money or property handed down or received from an ancestor or predecessor, however such a gift made from someone’s estate to an organisation, such as a charity or church is also referred to as a ‘legacy’.

Do many people leave a legacy to their church?

Each year about 5,000 people leave a gift in their will to a church or parish. In total, parishes receive around £50 million in legacy gifts each year.

For many people, leaving a gift in their will to their church is a final opportunity to make a lasting gift to God. It is also a way to make a lasting difference to the future of their church and community.

Do I need a will to leave a legacy?

As with all matters relating to someone’s estate, it is much easier to have your intentions documented in a will.

As Christians, we are God’s stewards, entrusted to use his gifts for the good of our family and to prosper the work of his kingdom. In thanksgiving, we should also take will writing seriously – setting our affairs in order and stewarding them wisely to the end of our time on earth and beyond. For nearly 500 years, the Church of England has encouraged its members to write a will and keep it up to date.

Once you have made provision for your loved ones, you have the opportunity to make a lasting gift to God, by leaving a legacy to his church. A gift in your will to your church is one of the most valuable and lasting ways you can continue to support its mission and ministry.

What would St Mary’s do with a legacy?

Most people would only consider leaving a gift in their will if they think their church will use it for worthwhile projects, not simply to fund operating costs. In order to reassure those considering leaving a legacy to St Mary’s, the PCC has published a policy set out below.

St Mary’s has benefitted from a small number of legacies over the years, enabling us to grow additional ministry leaders, support other churches and boost our missionary support.

St Mary’s Legacy Policy

We welcome all gifts in wills, however large or small, and promise to use them to make a difference. Our policy is to use gifts to help fund significant development projects, whether buildings, equipment, mission or staff.

Since the needs of the church change over the years, we encourage you to leave the gift in your will for the general purpose of gospel work rather than for a restricted purpose.

We encourage you to leave the legacy to the A&M Trust (Charity number 1105023) rather than to the church itself. The A&M Trust is an independent trust which has supported our church for many years. The trust exists to support biblical gospel ministry in Maidenhead and is a way of ensuring that funds are always used for that purpose. For example, donations to the A&M Trust were used in the past to refurbish the church.

You can be confident that your gift will be used to make a real difference to our future mission and ministry.

What are the tax implications of leaving a legacy?

Charitable legacies are exempt from inheritance tax, so a legacy will reduce the value of your estate before inheritance tax at 40% is calculated, giving an inheritance tax saving where the estate is over the inheritance tax threshold.

It is not possible to claim Gift Aid on legacies.

Where might I go for further information?

If you wish to discuss leaving a legacy to St Mary’s, please contact a member of the Finance Committee, via the church office or email finance@stmarysmaidenhead.org.

For additional information on legacies and wills, including advice for executors and solicitors, please visit https://www.churchofengland.org/our-faith/church-legacy