What A Charity Must Know About Inheritances

For a good cause, it is often an unexpected gift: a legacy. You have not counted on it at all or the moment is unexpected. Smaller charities may also be affected. Therefore: 7 practical tips for charities about legacies.

1. We are talking about a lot of money, sometimes a lot of money.

A group of charity organizations has started a campaign ( www. Toegift.nl) to persuade  people to include a good cause in their will. Logical, because of the people who die, only 4 percent leave money or goods to a good cause. In England, for example, that is 7 percent. It is already about large amounts. Although it is difficult to say, it is estimated that just under 300 million euros are left to charities every year.

2. Failure to charity, this requires a will.

Without a will, the estate of a deceased person (assets and debts) goes to the legal heirs. So spouse, children, grandchildren, etc. Charities are therefore not in the picture. Anyone who wants to deviate from this can do so via a codicil (handwritten, susceptible to fraud and not applicable to monetary amounts) or (better) a will. A will is a deed drawn up by the notary in which, for example, a charity can be wholly or partially named heir. Note that a will will always be changed by the person concerned and he or she is not obliged to inform anyone other than the notary. Whether a deceased person has a will and which notary is at it can be requested from the Central Testament Register (CTR).

3. Always consider any children.

It is good to know that legal heirs can be disinherited through a will, but that children (or those who have already died their children) always retain their legitimate portion of an estate. The legitimate portion is a claim in money and amounts to half of the inheritance that a child would have obtained under the law. The legitimate portion is calculated on the value of the assets of the estate, plus certain donations made by the deceased and less debts. A disinherited child is entitled to documents on the basis of which the legitimate portion can be calculated. Furthermore, it is important to know that a disinherited child is not an heir (and is therefore not directly involved in the distribution of the inheritance), but is an creditor. He or she receives a claim against the joint heirs or the spouse / registered partner of the deceased. The legitimate portion can be claimed from six months to a maximum of five years after the deceased’s death.

4. An estate cannot always be used freely.

Those who leave something to a good cause generally do not attach any further conditions to this. The money can then simply be added to the general resources of a fund and is free to spend. However, setting conditions is possible. For example, a person may determine that an inheritance may only be spent for a specific activity or project. This money may not be put in the general funds, but must be kept in reserve. A problem here may be that it is no longer possible at a certain moment to allocate the money to that specific destination, for example because a project is no longer running or a certain objective has since been achieved. This shows once again how important it is – certainly in such cases – that there is timely consultation between the person who wants to leave and the charities. If only to agree on how to act in such circumstances. The notary can include such agreements in the will.

5. A legacy is not always immediately available.

A person who has a will made can designate a charity as an heir and at the same time determine that another person will first have access to his assets before the charity is discussed. Sounds complicated, but it is not. This is possible in two ways. The first option is a so-called legacy of usufruct. This may include, for example, a charity, although the heir, but that, for example, a life partner of the deceased has the right to use his goods (such as the home or bank balances) and to enjoy their ‘fruits’ (such as interest or rental income) . The will determines the powers of the usufructuary and that can sometimes go far, sometimes to the extent that the estate may also be drawn up. The second option is a two-stage creation. In that case, the will will determine who the first heir is, but also who will receive the remaining assets if they too die. Whoever makes up the will, therefore, actually has his legacy twice. There are conditions attached to these types of constructions, but it goes too far to cover them all here.

6. The settlement of an estate is a profession.

The settlement of an inheritance is often complicated and involves – certainly for those who are not often confronted with it – quite a few questions. It is therefore work that is often done by an executor or liquidator. If the heirs together are authorized to settle the estate, they can authorize a third party, for example a notary, to do so. Established for the settlement of an estate where a charity is designated. Both charities and civil-law notaries receive advice on the smooth settlement of inheritances. Very handy for those who are dealing with it for the first time.

7. Recruiting legacy requires care.

Actually it goes without saying, but it is good to point it out again here. The larger charities in particular employ a fundraiser who is specifically involved in the acquisition of legacies. Guideline for the acquisition of inheritances since 2012 . The purpose of this directive is to improve communication regarding the acquisition of inheritances for charities. It describes which legal rules charities must in any case adhere to and how action is also desirable.