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Income from wills boosts sector income

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House prices contributed to strong performance from legacies

Legacy income has rallied by 12.5% over the past year, bouncing back from lower levels in 2020 when probate delays and pandemic-related disruptions slowed bequests, a report has found.

Charities in Legacy Foresight’s flagship benchmarking programme account for around half of the UK legacy market, receiving £1.62 billion of cash legacy income in 2021, up from £1.44bn in 2020.

Legacy Monitor is a quarterly benchmarking programme, which has been run by Legacy Foresight since 2008, compiling market data for strategic analysis and enabling charities to track their legacy performance.

Income was bolstered by the continued strong performance of house prices and financial assets, with the average value of a residual gift during 2021 increasing by around 6% to £63,800.  

The number of bequests to charities in the Legacy Monitor rose to 57,400 – an annual increase of 13.9%. While this growth is significant, it falls below expected levels, given the tragically elevated number of deaths.

Jon Franklin chief economist at Legacy Foresight, says: “Legacy income has made a strong recovery in 2021, but it’s clear that there are still a number of issues impacting the estate administration system, slowing the release of funds.

“The volume of applications for probate hasn’t increased by as much as we would have expected given the number of deaths, and this suggests a slowdown further upstream in the estate administration process, adding to the delays in flow of legacy gifts to charities. But we can’t rule out the risk that some of the “shortfall” in bequests we had expected to come through could be explained by differences in the profile of those who died during the pandemic. For example, if those who died were less wealthy, they may have been less likely to leave a charitable gift.

“Despite this and the ongoing uncertainty of the current environment, we’re expecting to see legacy income escalating with further growth in the number of bequests arriving with charities during 2022 and beyond.”

Legacy Foresight will release its forecast for the UK legacy market by the end of March, incorporating new UK death projections from the ONS as well as latest views on prospects for the economy and the bequest trajectory.



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