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Blog: It’s time we made sense of Wills

Louise Swindell

By Louise Swindell
Tenovus Cancer Care Development Manager

When people hear the word legacy, most people think they need to have invented something, had a building or room named after them or have built an orphanage for starving children! It’s not true, so don’t panic, it’s simply the gifts, big or small, that we leave behind.

Many of us don’t think we have anything worth leaving and are too busy working out if we can afford the next food shop or whether we can ever retire – not many of us want to think about dying, let alone who will benefit from it!

But what many people don’t know, is that leaving something small to a charity can make a huge difference. If you play a small part in creating a world without cancer as your parting gift, that’s a wonderful thing. And the best bit – it really isn’t as complicated as it sounds.

There are three different types of gifts you can leave to a charity in your Will; I’m going to make sense of these as the words ‘residual’, ‘pecuniary’ and ‘special item’ are not words most of us have ever used and sound more like words from a Terry Pratchett book!

Types Of Legacy Gift


A Residuary Legacy is just a bit or a percentage of what you’re leaving (also known as your estate) that goes to a particular person or a charity. For example, many people like to leave 10% to a charity of their choice. These sorts of gifts are easy as you don’t need to worry about what the exact figures are. The value of your ‘estate’ will change over time, and a residual legacy means your Will changes with it. So if you don’t have children, or you do but they are older now, have their own homes and don’t need the money from you – you can leave some of it to a charity.

So… say you have 3 children and also want to leave something to charity – ask your solicitor for anything you have to be split four ways. Simple!

Or…you might want all grandchildren to have a set amount of £100 and whatever is left goes to charity*

Or…you can leave a percentage, 1%, 3%, 10%, or even 50%.

You might want more than one charity included, which is also fine. 5% to Tenovus Cancer Care, 5% to the local dogs' home and the rest split between family.

Remember it’s your legacy, so it’s your decision.

The average residual legacy is estimated to be around £40,000 – a huge amount of money! For Tenovus Cancer Care that could pay for 889 people to have chemotherapy on board one of our Mobile Support Units. We now have the largest cancer treatment unit in the world – check it out here. That would be a pretty amazing gift to leave, right?

*People often worry that there will be complications if there isn’t anything left after you pass and that the charity will be prioritised over your family, this isn’t true. If there isn’t anything left, that’s fine.


Next up, the most popular type of gift, pecuniary – This is, in effect ‘a bit’! And what sort of ‘bit’, is entirely up to you!

A Pecuniary Legacy is a fixed amount of money you would like to leave to someone, or a charity. This is useful if you have a specific amount of money in mind. Perhaps you’d like to leave your grandchildren a University fund or the deposit for their first house? If you’re thinking of leaving a gift to Tenovus Cancer Care and would like to chat to us about what your gift could fund, please get in touch.

It’s a little bit like going to the shops and buying your bread, milk and eggs and if there happens to be 5p left over popping it into the charity pot at the till. (Thank you if you already do this!)

Special gift

And finally, special gift – this can be absolutely anything that is an object. It might be a watch, a necklace, a vase, a property, a painting – anything! These items vary in price, often because trends change. For example my mum is always looking out for Royal Doulton pieces at car boots because she’d love to find an antique! And remember when Rennie Mackintosh was really cool?

You can split your legacy how you'd like. You could leave your children a percentage, leave a charity a specific amount of money, and then leave specific items like jewellery to your grandchildren. 

And of course you can leave a special gift to charity too. So, that item that you hold dear and would like to leave to us, we'll be very grateful for!

Free Wills Month

Tenovus Cancer Care's Free Wills Month means you can make or update your Will at no cost to you at all. Life changes so quickly, grandchildren arrive, we fall out with our brothers and sisters, and sometimes we need our Will to reflect that – and we don’t want to spend money every time something changes! So now, you don’t have to!

All we ask if that if you have been affected by cancer and like us, want to see a world where no-one dies of cancer. Then this is one way you can help us achieve that.

I hope this makes things a little clearer. If you've got any questions or would like to make or update your Will for free just give me a call on 029 2076 8856 or follow the link below.

Register Your Interest Button

If you'd like to find out more about types of gifts in Wills, or Free Wills month, click here or give our friendly Legacy Team a call on 029 2076 8856.