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Information for executors and solicitors

Being an executor can feel complicated. We have lots of information which can help including answers to your questions relating to a gift that has been left to Macmillan.

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If a pecuniary gift has been left

If we have been left a fixed sum of money, when you make payment of the gift to us, please also send us:

  • the name and address of the person who left the gift. This will mean we can make sure no further mailings are sent out
  • a copy of the clause in the will that names Macmillan Cancer Support. This will help us ensure that the gift is spent in the way the deceased wished
  • we would also love to know why we were remembered in someone's will. This isn't a necessity, but it does help put our work into perspective.

If a specific gift has been left

If we have been left a specific gift such as a car, a china collection, a stamp collection etc., we ask that the item is sold and the sale proceeds are paid over to us.

If we have been left property or land, we would be grateful to see marketing appraisals from three estate agents. We also ask that the property is marketed online for a minimum of one month.

Please let us know when there is an offer the executors are considering accepting. To help us assess any offers, it would be helpful for the estate agent to provide:

  • confirmation of how long the property has been on the market and where it has been advertised
  • confirmation of how many enquiries and viewings there have been
  • a recommendation and reasoning on whether to accept any offers
  • once an offer has been accepted, if the sale value exceeds the probate value by more than the executors annual Capital Gains Tax (CGT) allowance, a CGT liability will arise.

Remember that we are here to help you if you need us. We have many years of experience in selling all sorts of items. Get in touch with us and we can work together to make the most of the gift.

If a life interest gift has been left

A life interest gift is a gift we will receive once a trust benefiting someone else ends. We hope that we do not benefit from this type of gift for many years but please do let us know about the gift as soon as you are able to.

While the gift is held for the benefit of someone else, we ask that we receive a copy of any valuations so that we know the current value of the trust. We would also ask that you update us every so often.

Once the trust ends, we would be grateful to receive the information shown in the other sections, depending on the type of gift we receive.

If a residuary gift has been left

We appreciate that administering an estate can take some time and what is left over once everything has been sold is the last thing that can be distributed. We completely understand this and want to help you where we can. We usually request that you send us a copy of the will and a schedule of assets and liabilities at the beginning of the administration. This will enable us to identify any issues or assets that we can help with. Things to consider are;

  • Does the estate include an investment portfolio?

    If this answer is yes, please send us the valuation you have received.

    We have contacts who may be able to offer preferential rates for selling these, to the advantage of all the beneficiaries. It is also possible that the sale of shares may result in a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) liability.

    Charities are exempt from paying CGT, and in most instances we can avoid payment on our share. If you think that the shares might sell for a value greater than the probate value, please get in touch with us.

  • Does the estate include property or land?

    As a team we always seek to ensure that assets are sold for their best price so as much money as possible is available for people living with cancer. Therefore, if the estate includes land and property, we would be grateful to see marketing appraisals from three estate agents. We also ask that the property is marketed online for a minimum of one month.

    Please let us know when there is an offer the executors are considering accepting. To help us assess any offers, it would be helpful for the estate agent to provide:

    • confirmation of how long the property has been on the market and where it has been advertised
    • confirmation of how many enquiries and viewings there have been
    • a recommendation and reasoning on whether to accept any offers.

    Once an offer has been accepted, if the sale value exceeds the probate value by more than the executors annual CGT allowance, a CGT liability will arise.

    As a registered charity, Macmillan Cancer Support is exempt from paying CGT. CGT can be saved if the property is transferred to the charitable beneficiaries prior to sale. This will mean we need a surveyor's report. Please get in touch with us if this is required.

  • Does the estate include foreign assets?

    Foreign assets can be complicated to realise. We would always recommend that you seek professional advice.

    Although we are unable to give advice about foreign assets, we may have contacts that are able to assist you.

  • Do I need to know anything about Inheritance tax?

    If a will gifts more than 10% of the taxable estate to charity, the amount of Inheritance Tax (IHT) payable is reduced from 40% to 36%. This can benefit all beneficiaries of the estate.

    A will can also be amended after someone has died by completing a Deed of Variation. The executor has two years from the date when someone dies to complete a Deed of Variation. If the will gifts between 4% and 10% to charity, it is most likely that increasing the gifts to charity to 10% will reduce the amount of IHT which will also benefit the non-charitable beneficiaries. If you are an executor or beneficiary of an estate leaving a gift to Macmillan Cancer Support and are considering doing this, please get in touch with us and we will be happy to discuss it with you.

    You may also find it useful to know that in most cases charities are exempt from paying IHT. If you have any questions about this, please get in touch with us.

  • Do charities pay income tax?

    As a registered charity we are able to reclaim all income tax paid during the administration of the estate from HMRC.

    This includes our share of tax paid on bank and building society interest and on dividends. We therefore ask that you supply a tax deduction certificate or form R185 (Estate Income) to us at the end of the administration. Please contact us if you would like help in completing these forms.

  • Is there anything else that you need?

    At the end of the administration we would appreciate seeing a copy of the Estate Accounts. These are the final accounts showing the transactions that have taken place over the course of the administration. These do not need to be complex, just a list of the asset values realised and the payments made.

    We ask for these as we are tightly audited and regulated. We need to be able to show how, and why, we have received the amount we have from any estate from which we are lucky enough to benefit. We would also love to know why we were remembered in someone's will. This isn't a necessity but it does help put our work into perspective.

Frequently asked questions for executors

  • What if someone has died and they have left a gift to charity?

    The first thing you would need to do is locate their last Will and Testament, usually a copy would be kept with the person's important papers. This will give information of the law firm or will writers who often hold the original will. If you think they used the Macmillan Free Will Service we are able to check our records and can tell you which provider they used for you to contact them directly. We don't however have details of the contents of the will nor do we keep copies or originals.

    If you can't find a copy, then contacting the law firm that acted for the deceased is the best starting point. This may be a law firm that has acted for them in purchasing of property, family law cases or business advice. If you don't know of any law firm or will drafter that acted for the deceased, then you can try contacting the bank, as some still retain documents for customers.

    Some people register their will with Certainty's National Will Register, if they have, then for a fee you can search the register.

    Once you have the will, inform the executor of the death' so that they can start to carry out their duties. It is important that no one other than the executor starts to deal with the estate as this can cause issues later on.

  • What if I am named as the executor in someone’s will?

    As executor, it is your duty to ensure that you follow the final wishes of the deceased. These wishes are usually expressed in the will. You are also responsible for organising the funeral and informing all interested parties of the death.

    This will include, but is not limited to, creditors, debtors, beneficiaries and HMRC. Once these steps have been followed, an executor is also responsible for arranging the payment of all debts, expenses and taxes. You must pay any outstanding debts or bills before you can legally distribute the estate, as per the contents of the will.

  • Will I need to get a Grant of Probate?

    A Grant of Probate (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or Confirmation (if the deceased lived in Scotland) is the document that gives the executor the legal authority to deal with the estate.

    In our experience, many estates will need a Grant of Probate or Confirmation. If the estate is quite small, the executor might not need to get these documents. It is best to check with individual institutions whether they need one to release assets. Usually this depends on the value of the assets and can differ between institutions.

  • How do I apply for a Grant of Probate or Confirmation?

    Some people prefer to instruct a solicitor to obtain a Probate or Confirmation and you may wish to do this. The process can be complicated and as they are experts, they are able to help ensure that the process is carried out efficiently.

    If you would prefer to do this step yourself, the easiest way to find all of the information you need is by visiting:

  • Who do I need to tell about the death?

    It is important to tell any company who had dealings with the deceased. This includes relevant utilities, banks, insurance providers and government agencies. You should also inform any company that is holding assets belonging to the deceased.

    Executors usually place statutory notices in the London Gazette and a local newspaper. For more information see The Gazette's website.

  • Will there be Inheritance Tax?

    It is possible that the estate will need to pay Inheritance Tax (IHT). This is dependent on the size of the estate, the beneficiaries of the estate and whether the deceased made any lifetime gifts in the seven years before they died. Gov.uk has lots of information regarding IHT, when it is applicable and which Inheritance Tax form you will need to complete.

    Remember that, if a will gifts more than 10% of the taxable estate to charity, the amount of Inheritance Tax (IHT) payable is reduced from 40% to 36%.

    Where between 4% and 10% is being given to charity it is possible for all the beneficiaries to increase their gift by entering into a Deed of Variation and increasing the charitable gifts to 10%.

  • What do I do once I have the Grant of Probate or Confirmation?

    Once you have received the Grant of Probate or Confirmation, you can start to pay the debts due and administer the estate in line with the deceased's wishes. You may choose to do this yourself or instruct a solicitor to do this on your behalf.

The Impact of leaving a gift to Macmillan

A third of Macmillan's income comes from Gifts in Wills. By choosing to leave a gift in your will, you will make a huge difference to people living with cancer long into the future.

Find out more about how your gift could help us provide vital support for people living with cancer.

Contact us

Please contact us with any queries you may have by:

Phone: 020 7091 2333

Email: legacyincome@macmillan.org.uk

Post: Legacy Income Team
Macmillan Cancer Support
PO Box 791
YORK
YO1 0NJ

Please note enquiries via post will take longer to respond to. They will also be more costly, both financially and to the environment. We therefore ask that, if possible, you contact us via email or phone.