Why should PCCs be thinking about encouraging people to write a will?
For nearly five hundred years the Church of England has encouraged its members to keep their wills up to date. The Book of Common Prayer reminds people to ‘settle their estates whilst they are in good health’. Yet research shows that over half the UK adult population have not written a will so far. If you die without a will it will be the courts which will decide what will happen to your assets, your family, friends or favourite charity may lose out, and your grieving loved ones will face extra stress at a difficult time.
Many of those who do make a will are happy to leave something to their parish church. Every year PCCs across the country receive around £45 million from legacy giving – an average of £3,000 per parish each year, and these legacies make a big difference to many churches’ mission and ministry.
There is also a spiritual side to leaving something to the church. ‘Everything comes from you, O Lord, and of your own have we given you’. 1 Chronicles 29:4. We are reminded that everything we have in this life has been given to us by God, so we may wish to give something back.
What should the PCC be doing about legacies?
The PCC needs to agree a policy on how legacy income will be spent. Many people will gladly leave a gift in their will if they know the money will be used for a mission project, or to improve the building or facilities, but won’t be happy if they think the money will be used to fund everyday running costs.
Promote will making and legacy giving to the parish. This can be done in a sensitive and low key way, over the long term, with messages tailored to meet the particular needs of different groups – young families, empty nesters or the elderly, for example.
Resources and further information
There is a new, dedicated website with a wealth of information and resources on making and revising wills and leaving a gift to the Church at www.churchlegacy.org.uk
There are leaflets available for parishes to encourage people to make a will or give a gift to the church, and also a guide to making or revising a will. These are available from Church House Bookshop.
For further information contact
Liz Mullins, Christian Stewardship Adviser, at Diocesan House.