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2023 saw highest ever number of charitable estates in wills: Smee & Ford

Melanie May | 26 April 2024 | News

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Smee & Ford’s annual Legacy Trends Report reveals that 38,178 charitable estates were found in wills in 2023, the highest number recorded since its tracking of sector data began in 2012.

Reported legacy income in 2023 reached £3.5 billion, with Smee & Ford estimating that the actual total was more than £3.9bn – the highest total it has ever reported and a 3.2% increase on 2022.

13.7% of probated estates with wills charitable nationally, rising to 14.9% when intestate cases – probated estates without wills – are included. According to the report, there were more charitable wills in areas of the south west and south east, reaching nearly 1 in 5 wills, compared to 1 in 8 – 1 in 10 in many areas of the north-east and Wales.


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Overall, Smee & Ford says that 10,951 charitable organisations were mentioned in wills in 2023.

Based on the number of deaths recorded in 2023 (581,367), Smee & Ford calculates that 6.6% of people in the population of England and Wales mention a charitable organisation in their will.

2023 also saw the value of charitable estates increase by £1.2bn from £21.4bn to £22.6bn in 2023, a growth of almost 7%. This is the second time values have exceeded £20bn and, Smee & Ford notes, is important becase growth in estate values means the values of residual bequests also grow.