Over 5,000 people each year leave gifts in their Wills to support the work of the Church of England.
However, the Church of England itself is not a legal entity! Its structure is complex; we hope the short summary here will help you in conversations you may have with clients wishing to support the C of E.
Most clients who want to leave a gift to the Church will want to leave their gift to the work of their local parish church. The proper receiving body in that case is the Parochial Church Council (PCC) of the parish. PCCs are the governing bodies of parish churches and a PCC is a body corporate under the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956 (as amended). Some PCCs are also registered charities but currently only those whose annual income exceeds £100,000; the rest (the majority) are excepted from registration with the Charity Commission.
You can download here some suggested Will clause wording for gifts left to PCCs. Please include as much detail as possible to help identify the PCC in the Will clause. There are several hundred churches called St Mary’s and parish names and boundaries do change over time, so full information will help to ensure that the intended parish is identifiable as the beneficiary when the time comes. Each parish has a proper legal name which you can find at: http://www.achurchnearyou.com/. Simply enter the postcode and click on the ‘More info’ tab. You can also contact the appropriate diocesan office if you need further clarification; http://www.achurchnearyou.com/ will tell you which diocese a church belongs to if your client is unsure, and you can find contact details for all dioceses here: http://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/dioceses.aspx
Many Christians who choose to leave a gift in their Will to their local PCC will also wish to leave gifts to other charities too. The Church of England encourages Christians to give 5% of their gross monthly income to the Church and 5% to other charities, and some Christians apply this recommendation to their assets when dividing up their estate too. If your clients wish to leave gifts to a number of parishes, to different parts of the Church (e.g. Cathedrals, national church institutions, mission agencies etc) and to other charities, they may be interested in the new Church of England Legacy Service. This service aims to offer an easy way for Christians to support more than one church/charity through one simple Will clause with an accompanying Letter of Wishes. Find out more here and if you have any queries about it, feel free to contact us.
Finally, you may find that Christian clients enquire about ‘proportionate giving’ in relation to legacy gifts, i.e. residuary vs. pecuniary gifts in Wills. Many churches teach that Christians should give to churches and charities in proportion to their income. Christians may therefore be more likely to divide their estates into ‘shares’ and distribute it in % amounts rather than lump sum amounts.
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Phone the Church Legacy Line for free information and resources: 08445 870875