Number of charitable bequests hit record high last year


The number of gifts to charity left in wills hit a record high last year, latest figures show.

The legacy information company Smee and Ford said the number of individual bequests within charitable estates granted probate in England and Wales in 2022 was the highest recorded at 123,298.

The company said the total value of legacies that included a gift to charity last year also reached a new high of £21.3bn.

The figures have been significantly boosted by the backlog being cleared from two years of Covid, which delayed probate for many estates.

Smee and Ford identified 36,992 charitable estates out of a total of 231,582 estates processed that included a will – meaning almost one in six wills (16 per cent) processed included a gift to charity.

The final legacy income figure for 2022 has not yet been confirmed, but Smee and Ford’s “conservative estimate” was that it would be about £3.5bn.

The final figure was £3.2bn in 2021, Smee and Ford said last year.

A spokesman said: “The value of legacies continued to be significant for charities in 2022, with 31 per cent of legacy income coming from bequests worth over £500,000.

“A further 22 per cent came from bequests valued between £100,000 and £250,000, meaning over half of all legacy income in 2022 came from high value bequests worth over £100,000.”

Polly Avgherinos, managing director, said “It is encouraging to see that 2022 was another strong year for legacy income and that the number of charitable bequests recorded in wills has reached a new record.”

Allan Freeman, chair of Remember A Charity, said: “In today’s volatile economic environment, it’s hugely encouraging that gifts in wills continue to be such a significant and vital source of income for UK charities.

“More and more fundraisers tell us that legacy income is what’s enabling them to continue delivering services and, perhaps what’s most exciting, we’re seeing growing recognition among senior management of the importance of shoring up legacy fundraising teams and investment to protect their charities’ futures.”

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