When gifts are left to us in a will, we're always grateful. We'd like to thank the people who choose to leave gifts for future generations of children, and the executors who help to make it happen.
Being responsible for this can be a complex task, especially at a time which might be difficult. If you're unsure of any part of the process, we hope that this outlines the executor and solicitor roles more clearly.
What is an executor?
The executor of a will is the person who is made responsible for dealing with the estate of someone who has died.
If you have been named as an executor it will be your responsibility to act in the best interests of the estate and accept certain legal responsibilities. This includes making sure that the maximum amount from their estate goes to the beneficiaries named in their will.
How to be an executor
You may have been asked to be an executor a while ago or you may only have found out recently, either way, there are different ways of approaching the role of executor:
- Doing the work yourself
If you choose to take on the duties of executor yourself, there may be a lot to do but it can reduce the cost to the estate.
- Getting a solicitor
If you decide to have as little involvement as possible, you can choose to have a solicitor to do it for you, at any stage of the process.
- Sharing the role
This decision is not all or nothing - you can instruct your solicitor to get the grant on your behalf and then complete the rest of the work yourself.
- Declining the role of executor
If you don’t feel that being an executor is something you can, or want, to do then you can choose not to. However, you'll need to do so from the outset (when you are first asked or made aware).
If you decide not to be an executor, you will have to sign a form of renunciation (we can send you a template of this form on request). This will then mean that other parties can deal with the estate instead of you.
If there are several charity beneficiaries, this can seem like a lot of work. To save you the time, and the expense, of writing to each one, charities can usually agree for one organisation to act as a single point of contact. Please ask us about this.
If at any time dealing with this seems a little overwhelming, our team can help. We’re used to dealing with estates, so if you have any concerns please do just get in touch. We may well have come across a similar situation before.
Dealing with a solicitor
If you choose to work with a solicitor, you should expect:
- to receive an initial letter - a bit like terms and conditions. This sets out how your solicitor will act and what you can do if you're not happy about the way they're handling things
- to be treated as their client. This gives you the right to make sure that they deal with matters properly and at a reasonable cost
- the estate to pay for solicitors' fees. You are not expected to pay for this.
If you decide to complete as much of the process as you can yourself, you will still need to deal with a solicitor.
Are you a solicitor wanting to donate unclaimed client funds?
Different types of charity gifts
There are different things you'll need to do depending on the type of gift you've been asked to deal with. Below are instructions to help you manage your role as executor.
If you are an executor and are dealing with a will that has left cash to the NSPCC, here’s a checklist of what to do next:
- Send us a copy of the will or the section of the will that is specifically about the gift to NSPCC. What you send, by post or email, can just be a photocopy of the relevant page, with the other sections blanked out if you prefer. We need this so we can demonstrate we are complying with our obligations as a registered charity.
- Pay the gift whenever you're ready. This can be done in a number of ways, including by cheque, card or bank transfer.
- If we have been left a specific item, we will normally need to see a valuation. You’re likely to have needed it for the probate application, so please do send us a copy.
- Once we receive this information, we can consider how best to deal with the gift
- What happens next depends on the type of gift we have been left. For example, if it’s a personal possession, it may be best for us to ask you to sell the item and send us the proceeds, or we may ask you to send the item to us. If we do ask you to send it then we’d recommend using Royal Mail Special Delivery. Sometimes, we can also secure preferential rates or obtain expertise on how to deal with specialist or unusual items. It all depends on the gift and the circumstances.
When you’re ready, please give us a call on 020 3772 9728 and we can help you to work out what’s best.
If you have been asked to oversee the share of an estate as a gift to the NSPCC, there are certain duties placed on us as a registered charity. There are also, certain responsibilities the executor needs to comply with too. To make sure all obligations have been met, we’ll need to ask you for some information.
What we need
The deceased's details
We will need the name and last known address of the deceased before we can progress.
A copy of the will
Because of our duties as a charity, we need a copy of the will, and any codicils. As soon as you have the chance to, please do send us these.
Assets and liabilities of the estate
To help us plan and maintain accurate records for our auditors please send us a list of the assets and liabilities of the estate. If it’s easier, this can just be a copy of the HMRC IHT205 or 400 forms you have probably used as part of the probate application.
Property valuations of the estate (if applicable)
If there is a property in the estate, please let us have a copy of two valuations and any marketing details. We’d appreciate you keeping us informed and asking us about offers received on the property. This is so we can help ensure the gift makes the biggest difference possible.
Estate accounts - at the end of the administration
You need to show the accounts to the beneficiaries at the end of the process. So please keep a set of these as you carry out the administration of the estate. They should list the amounts received into the estate and all money paid out, but they don’t need to be in any specific format.
How to pay
There are different ways you can choose to pay sums to the NSPCC - and you can always contact our team for support if you need it.
- By cheque
Please make cheques payable to either NSPCC or Childline, depending on who the gift has been left to and send to:
42 Curtain Road
Also make sure to specify that the cheque is for a legacy gift in a will.
- By card or on the phone
Please call: 020 7825 2505 and specifiy that you are calling about a legacy gift in a will.
- By online bank transfer
Please let us know when you have made the payment.
This allows us to sort things out more quickly. Quoting our reference number also helps us to identify your payment and acknowledge receipt without delay.
You can also request one of our team members to confirm our details by telephone as an additional security measure. Our telephone number is: 0203 772 9728.
Glossary of legal terms
As an executor, you will come across many legal words and definitions. This glossary should help to make such information easier to understand.
- Assets: Everything that the deceased owned, including any share of assets held jointly with someone else.
- Beneficiary: The person or organisation chosen to receive a gift from the will.
- Codicil: A legal document that makes an amendment or addition to a current will.
- (the) Deceased: This is how the person who has died is described in most legal documents.
- Estate: Someone’s possessions, property and money.
- Executor: The person named in the will who is requested to deal with the deceased’s affairs as stated in it.
- Grant of probate: A document which confirms who is authorised to deal with the deceased’s affairs.
- Inheritance: When someone receives money, property or another personal possession from the deceased.
- Intestate: When someone dies without leaving a will. There are legal rules governing who can deal with the deceased’s affairs and how they should bedistributed.
- Legacy/ bequest: A gift left to an individual or organisation in a will.
- Liabilities: Any money that the deceased owed or any bills that must be paid from their estate.
- Pecuniary legacy: A cash gift (a set sum of money).
- Probate: The process of confirming the will is valid, identifying what the deceased owned, and finding what debts or liabilities need to be paid.
- Probate Registry: Probate offices that are responsible for the administration of grants of probate and grants of letters of administration.
- Residuary legacy: A share of an estate or a percentage of everything the deceased owned minus any debts.
- Specific legacy: A specific item, such as a house, car or jewellery.
- Trusts: Where someone holds money or property on behalf of somebody else.
- Will: A legally-binding document which sets out what the deceased wanted to happen to their money, property and possessions.
Leaving a gift to Childline or NSPCC?
If you've been asked to be the executor of a will that has left a gift to Childline, you may wonder why the NSPCC is referenced in some of the information you come across.
This is because Childline became one of our services after merging with the NSPCC in 2006. So, whether the gift is left to the NSPCC or to Childline, you can actually send your gift to the NSPCC.
However, Childline remains in existence as a charity, a wholly owned subsidiary of the NSPCC, primarily to ensure the receipt of legacies left to Childline before this change took place.
Any gift left in a will to Childline will, of course, be spent solely on Childline.
How you can help save tax
When dealing with the assets of an estate, there are ways to save tax which can increase the value of the gift to a charity, at no cost to any other beneficiary. This is a complex area, so please contact us if you have any concerns or queries.
Registered charities are exempt from inheritance tax. This means that gifts to NSPCC or Childline are usually paid free of tax and are deducted from the estate before the tax is calculated.
As a charity we can reclaim from the Inland Revenue our share of any income tax paid by the estate during the course of the administration. Every penny helps benefit the children we protect. And we’d be especially grateful, so long as it’s cost effective for you, if you’d fill in and send us HMRC’s form R185, which can be found on their website. This will help us make the most of the kind gift.
Saving capital gains tax
Selling property or shares can lead to a capital gains tax; charities are exempt but the estate is not. If the property or shares could sell for more than they were valued at the time of probate, the estate is likely to have to pay capital gains tax. But, as a charity, the NSPCC is exempt.
To ensure the benefit from our charitable tax exemption can be realised by the estate, there are a few formalities to follow:
- First of all, if it’s a property then you will need a specialist surveyor’s report so we can comply with the Charities Act. Please let us know if you would like details about using a surveyor.
- For both shares and property, there’s a simple form to complete, called a ‘memorandum of appropriation’. We can send you a template of this form if you’d like us to.
This all needs to take place before contracts are exchanged or, in the case of shares, before they are sold or transferred.
By doing this, executors are not only carrying out their duties to the estate, but also ensuring the NSPCC will receive an additional benefit which will help even more children. We really do appreciate you carrying out this work.
How charity gifts help
Our Childline service is here for children whatever their worry, whenever they need help. Young people talk to us about things like family problems, bullying, self-harm and depression.
Our helpline is a place that any adult can turn if they’re worried about a child. Whether they need advice like when it’s safe to leave a child home alone, or are worried that a child they know is being abused. We’re here to help, to reassure, and to take action to keep children safe. It’s open 24 hours a day, on 0808 800 5000.
Our face to face services help children to rebuild their lives after abuse, and support families under pressure so that abuse can be prevented.
Our Speak out Stay safe programme helps educate children about abuse in schools. Through age-appropriate assemblies and workshops, we help children to understand abuse, and tell them where they can get help if they need it.
Our supporters stories
"I've put off writing a will for ages. Now, with 2 young children, I realise I need to plan ahead. It's much easier than I thought and I'm leaving something for the next generation of children."
“My mother took away my childhood. I decided to use my experience to do something positive and leave a gift to the NSPCC. I’m doing something for children and it feels great!”
"When I lost someone close to me, I realised how important it is to write a will. It is a great relief to friends and family to know they’re carrying out your wishes."