Legacy giving can be the culmination of a lifetime of giving. Many churches would be delighted to receive a legacy from a former worshipper.

Church Legacy website and materials

The Church of England’s Church Legacy website offers essential information for individuals considering leaving a gift in their Will to their local church, Executors, solicitors acting on behalf of clients, churches looking to encourage legacy giving in their parish or receiving a legacy gift and Christians wishing to find out more.

A gift in your Will

Always take advice from a solicitor when making your Will. The Church Legacy website gives advice on how to leave a gift in your Will to your church, prepare for a visit to your solicitor, and provides example wording for your Will to make sure it reflects your desire to support your parish church’s mission and ministry after you die. The legacy helpline is 08445 870875.

There is also a Church Legacy Service from the Church of England, which makes it easy to give to the wider Church and any other Christian or humanitarian organisation through a single gift in your Will.

Encouraging legacies in your parish

A parish wishing to encourage people to leave a gift to the church in their Will must act with sensitivity. Does your PCC have a legacy policy? A policy indicating that legacies will be used for developmental projects, rather than to pay day-to-day running costs, is likely to give potential donors greater confidence that money they leave to your church will make a lasting difference. Download our document to aid PCC discussion on what your parish would do with a legacy (below).

It is helpful to appoint a parish/benefice legacy officer to oversee your legacy strategy and be available to discuss matters in confidence.

Order a free legacy pack through the Church Legacy website.

A leaflet which you can personalise using photographs of your church and its community and your own messaging on gifts in Wills is available on the Parish Resources website.

Just as we can encourage proportionate giving for regular lifetime gifts, why not encourage people – through general legacy promotion – to consider a Residuary gift (a percentage of their estate) in their Will, rather than a Pecuniary gift (a fixed amount, the value of which could have decreased considerably since the Will was written).

Good Will suppers/lunches are a proven way of introducing the subject in your parish/benefice/LMG in an informal atmosphere. People can discuss how to make or amend a Will, with speakers from the local and national church and a local solicitor present. Christian Aid’s Regional Legacy Officer has offered to run joint events with individual parishes or benefices – contact us or Christian Aid direct if this would be of interest.

You can also drip-feed messages – using our parish magazine article and follow-up article (download from bottom of page).

The Church has encouraged members to make sure their Wills are up-to-date since the first Book of Common Prayer:

‘And if he have not before disposed of his goods, let him then be admonished to make his will . . .. . . men should often be put in remembrance to take order for the settling of their temporal estates, whilst they are in health.’ Order for the Visitation of the Sick, Book of Common Prayer

Will Aid

Will Aid, held every November, is an excellent opportunity to encourage parishioners to make or amend a Will and include a legacy gift to their parish church. People can make their Will with a one of the participating solicitors and donate their fee to participating charities.

Sermon notes on Legacy Giving

In teaching on stewardship, the opportunity to give to God’s work through a Will is hardly every mentioned. Christian Legacy, a Consortium of Christian charities, has written some notes as a suggested starting point for a sermon, talk or series of addresses on legacy giving, containing Biblical material, practical advice and useful quotations.

Who to contact

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