Help with making a will and leaving a gift

 Advice on making a legally valid will, how we can help, and leaving a gift to the British Red Cross

Leaving a gift in your will shouldn’t be complicated.

Here you’ll find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions including how to make a will, how much a will cost, and how to support us with a legacy gift.

Find out more about: 

Arrow icon how to leave money to charity in your will

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Advice for including legacy gifts in a will


How to leave a gift in your will to charity

If you would like to leave a legacy gift in your will to the British Red Cross, there are three ways you can donate:

  • Share of your estate (residuary gift). You can choose any size percentage that is left over from your estate, once your friends and family have been provided for.
  • Cash gift (pecuniary gift). This can be a gift of a set amount you choose.
  • Specific item. This can be anything from furniture, jewellery, or even property.


Making simple changes to your will 

To add a legacy gift to your existing will download and complete a codicil form.

Or if you want to write a new will, we can help you with our free will writing service.

How to make a will legal in the UK

When writing a will in the UK, it's important to make sure your will is legally valid. You must adhere to the following to ensure it is valid:

  • make your will voluntarily
  • make your will in writing
  • be of sound mind
  • be 18 years old or over
  • sign your will in the presence of two witnesses aged 18 or older
  • have those same two witnesses also sign your will in your presence

Why a gift in your will can make all the difference

Your donation can transform lives. Together, let's create a brighter future by supporting those facing crises.

Legacy gifts contribute to 25% to the British Cross’ annual funding, meaning our vital work is only possible thanks to the kindness of our generous supporters.

Our life-changing work:

Emergency response workers help transport a woman affected by the UK floods.

Making a will

What are the benefits of making a will?

There are many benefits to making and regularly updating your will. From allowing you to take care of your family, to ensuring your wishes are fulfilled after you’ve gone. A will also allows you to make any funeral requests clear, appoint guardians for children, as well as allowing you the opportunity to leave a gift to a charity you care about.

The British Red Cross can help you write your will for free with our will writing service. 

When should you make a will?

We recommend writing and amending your will at various key stages in your life, or when you find your circumstances have changed. This could be when you purchase a new home, get married or divorced, or the arrival of children and grandchildren.

I need a template for a simple will

You can download a simple will planner guide here. 

This guide will help you work out the value of your estate, decide who you would like to care for after you’ve gone and write any questions that you would like to ask your solicitor.

How much does it cost to make a will?

At the British Red Cross, we’ve partnered with the National Free Wills Network and Bequeathed to allow supporters the opportunity to write a simple will for free. This includes a basic single or mirror will.

For more complicated wills, additional features will be charged once agreed between the client and solicitor. This includes, for example, adding a Power of Attorney to your will.

Can you make a will without a solicitor?

While you can make a will without a solicitor, we don’t recommend that you complete this important task by yourself.

Writing your own will can often lead to mistakes that could make your will invalid, particularly if you have multiple beneficiaries or a complex financial situation. By using a solicitor or professional will writer, they can make sure your will is mistake-free and legally valid.

Can I write my own will legally?

If you do decide to write your own will, you will need to make sure that it is legally binding. To legally write your will, it will need to be properly signed and witnessed by two adult witnesses who are not beneficiaries of it.

Can a couple make a joint will?

Yes, a couple can make a joint will. Also referred to as mirror wills, joint wills are written by two people, usually a couple, who each want to make the other the main beneficiary. These can be simple or more complex wills.

Understanding gifts in wills

Why leave a gift in your will to charity?

Leaving a gift in a will is a personal choice. But after taking care of loved ones, many people just like you, choose to leave a gift to a charity they care about. By leaving a gift in your will to the British Red Cross, you can ensure that, whatever happens in the world, we’ll be there. Your gift helps us respond to emergencies and can offer a lifeline during a disaster- both here in the UK as well as overseas.

What is a legacy gift in a will?

In a will, a legacy is a gift you choose to leave to someone, including individuals and organisations. Legacies left to the British Red Cross are used to support people in need during crises around the world, including those struggling with hunger, conflict, or natural disasters.

How much can you gift in your will?

The British Red Cross welcomes gifts of all amounts. Whatever you can give will help us provide food, shelter, medical supplies, and other necessities to disadvantaged communities.

Are gifts in a will taxable?

Yes, some gifts in wills will be taxable. Anything that you leave to your family and friends in your will, including property, money, and possessions may be taxable depending on its value - this is called inheritance tax. Inheritance tax is paid to the UK government if your estate is worth more than £325,000*.

At the current time, this tax is paid at 40%. However, if you leave 10% or more of your estate to charity, the rate is reduced to 36%. 

Can a charity be a beneficiary in a will?

Yes, a charity can be a beneficiary of a will. A beneficiary is any person, group, or organisation you choose to leave money or an item to in your will.

Can I leave everything to a charity in my will?

Your will and what you put into it is entirely up to you. If you do wish to leave everything to a charity, we recommend that you make reasonable assistance to any financial dependents, so they’re cared for after you’ve gone. 

Are there any rules about leaving money to charity in your will?

When leaving money to a charity in your will, you will need to include the charity’s name and registration number, along with clear instructions of how much you are leaving them.

The British Red Cross Society, incorporated by Royal Charter 1908, is a charity registered in England and Wales (220949), Scotland (SC037738), Isle of Man (0752) and Jersey (430).

Gifts in wills and the British Red Cross

How much funding does the British Red Cross get from gifts in wills?

Gifts in wills are vital for the British Red Cross, and a promise that no matter what happens in the world, we’ll be there to support with life-saving and emotional support.

Currently, a quarter of our income comes from gifts in wills, this equates to £1 in every £4 of fundraised income being left to us through generous gifts in wills.

How will my donation be used?

Gifts in wills left to the British Red Cross help our teams be ready and prepared to face any disaster or emergency. As well as supporting communities and (humanitarian) projects long term, funds raised through gifts in wills mean we can help those in crisis, wherever and whenever the need is greatest.

By leaving a gift in your will, you're helping to promise that our work will continue, allowing us to choose where essential funds are needed while ensuring we can continue to be there for people long into the future.


What's an example of a specific legacy gift left to the British Red Cross?

Some people choose to leave a specific item as a gift in their will. These are often items of value, such as jewellery or works of art.

How do you donate to the British Red Cross in memory of a loved one?

Many people choose to donate or fundraise in memory to remember someone. There are several ways to donate in this special way, from a one-off donation, an organised funeral collection, to fundraising in someone’s memory. At the British Red Cross, we’re always touched to receive donations of this kind. 

I'm an executor of a will with a legacy gift for the British Red Cross

If you are the executor of a will where the British Red Cross is a beneficiary, you will find all the information you need on our will executor page.


Get in touch 

If you can't find the answer to your questions, or you want to speak to someone in person about your will, please contact our legacy team by emailing or calling us on 0300 500 0401.

Want to find out more about advice on writing a will or leaving a gift to charity?

Our team can help.

Phone number:

0300 500 0401

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