Pet charity targets solicitors for free wills service

Topics: Wills & Probate

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  • Ruth lister

Veterinary charity PDSA is looking for solicitors to help it provide free wills to its supporters nationwide, in the hope they will leave a gift to the charity in their will.  

PDSA will pay participating solicitors a fee to write a simple or mirror will. The charity said clients may then choose to leave some money to PDSA, but this is not compulsory.

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According to the charity, two-thirds of the two million treatments it gives every year are funded by gifts in wills, making it one of the UK’s largest beneficiaries from legacies.

Ruth Lister (pictured), PDSA’s legacy development manager, said: ‘Legacies make up a vital part of PDSA’s funding. When we piloted our free wills offer we had a fantastic response from animal lovers who choose to leave a gift to us.

‘This lasting legacy shows their love for pets by helping us provide our life-saving veterinary services across the UK.’

The charity is offering a simple will or codicil to individuals or couples over the age of 50.

The nationwide scheme started this month, after the service was tested in a handful of cities over the past 18 months. So far 350 individual solicitors or firms across the country have signed up to participate. 

The service will particularly target Essex, Oxford, Kent, Southampton, Portsmouth, Liverpool, Birmingham and East Sussex.

Dominic Mackenzie, a solicitor from Leeds firm Ison Harrison, said partnering with PDSA has given his firm the opportunity to secure long-term business from other clients who require executor and other services.

He added: ‘It is also a great way to demonstrate our commitment to corporate social responsibility, supporting a charity that helps hundreds of thousands of pets each year.’

According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, if someone's legal costs are covered by an organisation, solicitors must make clear the details of the arrangements between them and the organisation, and tell their client if they or the referrer is benefiting in anyway, financial or otherwise.

The free will offering comes at a time of uncertainty over whether people can safely leave money to charities in their wills, after the Court of Appeal overturned a woman’s will which had left her entire £500,000 estate to three animal charities. The charities are appealing the decision in the Supreme Court.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Interesting (but risky) idea.I wonder how much PDSA pay participating solicitors for a simple will or codicil? Will other charities follow suit?

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  • Rob, lots of charities already do this.

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  • We did this with PDSA last year. As with all "free Will" schemes, existing clients (usually the better-off ones) returned to get something for nothing, often leaving nothing to the charity in their Wills, and very few new or more needy clients took advantage.

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  • Dear Sir/Madam, I’m really sorry to hear your feedback. If it helps to reassure you, the vast majority of our solicitor partners report very positive inclusions and even donations in lieu of the service itself. I’d welcome the chance to discuss this with you properly if you can spare the time as any feedback that can help us improve the scheme is vitally important to us. Regards Ruth.

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  • I note the service is limited to simple wills. Presumably for those without a prospective IHT liability, and for those who are certain their named beneficiaries will not die before them (such as institutions, eg charities).

    I also observe the areas targeted by PDSA.

    I have had to administer wills which named PDSA as a beneficiary. I prefer dealing with almost any other charity when winding up an estate.

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  • Well we have just participated in 'Free Wills Month'. It was quite depressing to see the vast majority of participants had estates well in excess of £650k (2 in excess of £1m) and left nothing to charity. I guess that is why they have money.

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