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Charitable estates fell 12% in 2019

Charitable estates fell 12% in 2019

The number of charitable estates fell by 12% in 2019, figures from Smee & Ford have shown.

The 12% decrease was a drop of 4,500 charitable estates, with falling death rates and a decline in the number of Grants of Representation (the document needed to confirm someone is the executor of a Will) the main contributors, according to findings from Smee & Ford’s upcoming Legacy Trends 2020 Report. The drop affected nearly every causal area.

The number of deaths fell by 2% (10,000) year on year, which Smee & Ford state could explain part of the drop. However, its figures show the main factor to be a sharp decline in the number of Grants of Representation, which fell by 11% in 2019.

Despite the drop in numbers, the value of legacies for 2019 is estimated at £3-3.1billion. The value for 2018 was £3.4bn, although this included a one-off bequest to the Capricorn Foundation of over £400m. Disregarding this large bequest then, the figure remains almost flat year on year although this follows a trend of a continued increase in legacy income over previous decade.

Mark Pincher, Data Analyst at Smee & Ford commented:

“The average time between the date of death and the date of probate has grown from 6 months in 2015 to 9 months in 2019 which is likely to be a contributor to the decline. On a more positive note, the proportion of grants that have been identified as charitable has remained consistent at 14%, in line with the previous three years.”

The Smee & Ford Legacy Trends 2020 Report will be published on Tuesday 16 June.


Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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