Jump to content

Gifting to Charaties via your will.


Recommended Posts



Not sure what happened there.




Just finnished a briefing document on how we should advise people that wish to leave sums to charaties via their Wills. The actions of a few charaties in such circumstancies is causing concern and we as Advisers are being told that if we don't point this out to people and just "let it go" - if there is then a problem then we could be held liable by the family members who are disadvantaged.


Best description of what has happened of late is the following article - i have included a few comments as these sum up what most people seem to think.


I have to say I am dismayed at what seems to be dispicable action in this case by the RSPCA and it has certainly made me think about advising clients to gift to charaties via their Wills - which up until now has always been an effective way of cutting out the (IHT) taxman.


I will be very careful about recommending this in future.






A judge today slammed the RSPCA for taking the heirs of a wealthy donor to High Court to try and nearly double its share of his estate

So it took Mr Mason and the Sharps to court to try to get them to pay some of the tax out of their bequests.


However Mr Justice Peter Smith said the RSPCA's claim was 'extremely weak' and 'patently wrong'.


'It is a matter of regret that this action was ever brought,' the judge said today.


'It clearly caused great distress to the Sharps and John Mason and I cannot believe the deceased would have been happy to see arguments by the RSPCA designed to erode the largesse in favour of his friends and relative to their benefit in this way.


'The RSPCA really ought to have considered that the legacy I have determined it is entitled to was generous and ample provision out of the estate.'


At a previous hearing Mr Justice Smith dismissed the RSPCA's claim and ordered it to pay the costs of the legal action.


He refused the charity permission to appeal and said he hoped it would accept his decision because if the case went to the Court of Appeal it would 'cause more concern and stress' to Mr Mason, 85, and the Sharps, who are in their seventies.


The case centred on the order in which the benefactor's bequests should be considered, which would affect the tax bill faced by the RSPCA.


The RSPCA argued that Mr Mason's will should be considered in such a way that it would receive £651,820. However, the judge ruled that the charity was only entitled to £370,153.


Mr Mason's brother John - his only surviving relative - will receive £66,000, while Mr Sharp and his wife will receive around £400,000 between them.


Had the RSPCA been successful, Mr Mason, of Enfield, Middlesex, would have received only £28,820 and Mr and Mrs Sharp, of Southsea, Hampshire, £271,000.


Clare Kelly, Mr Mason's solicitor, said she thought it was 'quite disgusting' that a donation which had been left in good faith by an elderly animal lover had been used to pursue his relatives for more money.


'You'd think that a charity that had essentially had a windfall of £370,000 would not then think: 'Let's go for more',' she said. 'I don't know why they're playing such a tough game.


'My view is that it's a complete misuse of the funding they're getting. In this case they were left several hundred thousand pounds, and they were trying to get several hundred thousand more.'


Ms Kelly said Mr Mason would have struggled to cover the costs if he lost, and found the proceedings 'very distressing'.


'People leave money to charity to do good,' she added. 'But had [George Mason] known that this was how his brother would be treated then he probably would have thought much more carefully about what he did with the money.'


George Mason, of Gosport, Hampshire died at the age of 75 in 2007, leaving his estate - valued at around £950,000 - between his relatives, friends and the charity.


The RSPCA said later in a statement: 'All the RSPCA has done is try to honour what we believe was Mr Mason's clear intention to avoid anyone paying inheritance tax.'


Its case was that he bequeathed £300,000 to family and friends, at the time the maximum that could be left in a will without it being subject to the tax. The residue of his estate would go to the RSPCA.


However, the family believe he meant to leave his house on top of the £300,000, bringing the total sum to £469,000 and over the threshold for inheritance tax.


The judge agreed with the family's argument and the £112,000 tax will be deducted from the RSPCA's sum.


The case comes just two weeks after the RSPCA was ordered to pay the bulk of £1.3million legal costs after losing a lengthy court battle against Christine Gill, who was disinherited by her mother’s gift to the charity.


Judge James Allen QC punished the charity for refusing to negotiate before the case came to court.




Comments on this Article


The RSPCA should be ashamed of themselves - they are suppost to be an animal charity yet they only care about the money. I have reported many animals being negected or needing help to them but they havnt helped in one single case, they are only interested in the animals that they can get a quick turn around on to get money for them as quick as posible. The animals that need money or time putting into them and they arnt interested, they'd rather kill them.

- Helen, Somerset, 21/2/2010 15:32


Her Majesty The Queen should seriously reconsider her support of the RSPCA, they have become dishonourable. Whilst those at grass roots undoubtedly do good work the organization is run in an increasingly arrogant manner by people who seem to have forgotten what the RSPCA is supposed to be about.

- Chris, Birmingham, 21/2/2010 14:50



After the death of my step-mother, who left substantial sums to charities, I was warned by the estate's administrator that charities are becoming increasingly ruthless in attempting to maximise their benefits under legacies to the detriment of other legatees. We were fortunate in having no problems. However, they sometimes force people to sell family homes and can be very menacing in their dealings with bereaved relatives. I would never leave a brass farthing to charities, even as an IHT avoidance measure. If you have left sums to the RSPCA, amend your Will tomorrow !!




I always thought highly of the RSPCA - so i find these actions by them rather worrying :-S


I would be interested in what others think on this?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I read this article in the Mail in February, and immediately cancelled my direct debit donation to the RSPCA.

They are disgusting, they rely on donations for funding and yet treat you like dirt if you try to use their services.

We have a local lady who runs a cat rescue and until very recently had to pay for it all out of her own pocket, legally she was not allowed to accept cash donations because they were considered an 'income' by our lovely inland revenue, she applied for charity status quite a while ago, and has now received it, we now donate to her, she does not employ directors on huge salaries (as does the RSPCA) and every penny she gets, goes on the cats.

The last time we spoke, she hinted that her charity status application, was being objected to by a leading 'animal welfare organisation' but wouldn't elaborate.

To try to get the terms of a will amended to secure a payment nearly equal to double the donation is despicable, and they should be treated with the contempt they deserve. It goes to show how low charities are prepared to stoop, to get their hands on your money. >:-(


Off topic I know, but relevant, In Coventry, a friend of my parents, was left a farm by his Father, this farm was adjacent to a village church and an ancient covenant was in place that the owner of the farm had to pay for the upkeep of the church roof, this was put in place hundreds of years ago. However, a few years ago, the parish church decided it needed a new roof, and demanded £300,00:00 (if I remember right) from the owner of the farm, he didn't have that sort of money and argued that the agreement was in place with the owner 100s of years ago, not him.

Anyway, the outcome was that the church of England, took him to court, arguing that he had to pay for the upkeep of the church. They won, and he had to sell his house to pay legal costs as well as the original payment for repairs to a church he never used.


So it's happening all over the place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...