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How to write or update your Will

Find out how to write or amend your Will, plus guidance on how to include a gift in your Will

Find out how to write or amend your Will, as well as reading answers to frequently asked questions about leaving a gift to charity.

Your Will is the safest way to protect those closest to you and lets you choose what happens to your money and possessions. 

Writing a will makes it easier and less stressful for your family to sort out your affairs after you're gone. If you don't write a Will, the law decides how your estate is passed on, and this might not be as you had wished.

We recognise that family and loved ones will come first when writing your Will. However, many people choose to include a gift to charity as well, reaffirming their support for causes which are dear to them. If you are considering remembering Barnardo’s in your Will, you will expect us to make the best use of your gift for the benefit of children and young people who need us most. You will also expect us to treat you and your family with courtesy, sensitivity and respect.  

Read our full promise to supporters.

Things to consider before you start writing your Will

Finding a solicitor 

We recommend using a professional solicitor to write or update your Will, as this ensures everything is valid. You may have your own you want to use, or you can contact the Law Society where you live to find a qualified solicitor. 

Alternatively, you can write your Will with our free Will services. Our scheme allows you to make or amend your Will all year round at zero cost. It gives you the opportunity to include a gift to Barnardo’s, though there is no obligation.

What can you leave to charity in your Will?

If you want to leave a gift in your Will, it's worth taking time to think about the form and value of your gift. 

You can leave:

  • a share or percentage of your estate, for example 10%. This type of gift is also known as a residuary gift. This is the value of your estate after all bills, debts, taxes and other gifts are paid. The benefit of leaving this type of gift means it will be inflation proof and won’t lose its value over time. Many people choose to support charities by leaving a residuary gift as you don’t need to worry if your financial situation changes.
  • a fixed sum, this is a set sum of money such as £5,000. This type of gift is also known as a pecuniary gift. To ensure your gift retains its intended value, you can specify it’s linked to inflation (index-linked)
  • a specific item, this is a specific item such as a painting, piece of jewellery or house

If you choose to leave a gift to Barnardo's, it has the power to help change childhoods and change lives.

Suggested gift wording

We always advise that you speak to a legal professional to check you’ve got the right wording in your Will.

It’s always important to include our name, registered charity number and address:

  • Registered charity Nos. 216250 and SCO37605 
  • Barnardo's, Tanners Lane, Barkingside, Ilford, Essex IG6 1QG 

There is further guidance in our free guide.

If you are drafting a Will for a client the wording below may help:

Residuary legacy:

I give (….)% of my residuary estate to Barnardo’s (registered charity nos 216250 and SCO37605) of Tanners Lane, Barkingside, Ilford, Essex, IG6 1QG to be applied for its general purposes, and I direct that the receipt of the Treasurer or other proper officer at Barnardo's shall be good and sufficient discharge.

Pecuniary legacy: 

I give to Barnardo’s (registered charity nos 216250 and SCO37605) of Tanners Lane, Barkingside, Ilford, Essex IG6 1QG, the sum of £... to be applied for its general purposes, and I direct that the receipt of the Treasurer or other proper officer at Barnardo’s shall be good and sufficient discharge.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Can I use my Will to save Inheritance Tax?

You can leave your money free of Inheritance Tax up to a certain amount. For each £100 above that amount, when you leave £60 to your friends and family, £40 will go to the Treasury, unless you take control of your money and leave that £100 to a charity of your choice. 

That way, you decide how your money is used. Your money, left as a legacy in your Will, could make a real difference to your chosen charity.

Visit the Inheritance Tax Zero website or speak to your solicitor for more details.

When can I use a codicil instead of writing a new Will?

A codicil should be used for small changes such as including a gift in your Will to Barnardo’s. However if you’re making significant changes we would advise writing a new Will instead.  If you do choose to use a codicil then you should store it alongside your Will so your executors don’t miss it.

Can I request that my gift to Barnardo's be used on a specific project?

Yes you can. But it’s a good idea to not restrict your gift too tightly as in the future we may not be running that specific project, as we respond to the changing needs of children, young people and their families. We recommend you express your wishes in the form of a non-binding wish by saying “it is my wish but without creating any legally binding obligation that…”

Can I give with an Islamic Will?

Yes, Muslims can leave up to a third of their estate to beneficiaries who will not be a fixed inheritor, such as Barnardo’s. And by leaving a gift in your Will to us, you can pass on the gift of family to others. Your gift could be an act of Sadaqah Jariyah (ongoing charity that continues after one passes away) and help transform childhoods today, tomorrow, and far into the future.

Should I tell you if I’ve left a gift in my Will to you?

It’s completely up to you whether you would like to tell us about your gift, we realise that it’s a private matter for some. We always love having the opportunity to thank our supporters as well as keeping them up to date with our work. 

I'm struggling with all the legal language, can you help?

We recommend you speak to a qualified solicitor with any legal queries you have, however you can also view our gifts in Wills glossary.

If you need support writing your Will, our trusted partners offer a free Will writing service all year round. Find out about our free Will Services

However, we have prepared a legal language around Wills and Will writing document to help you.  

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    Free Will services

    We know that writing your Will can seem daunting and at times difficult knowing where to start. We can help you write your will.

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    Why Iain decided to leave a gift in his will to Barnardo’s

    Iain was helped by Barnardo's when he was a teenager. Now in this thirties he used our free Will writing service to leave a legacy that will help other children who may need our support.

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    Free guide to leaving a gift in your Will 

    Our free guide explains how you can arrange to leave a gift for Barnardo's in your Will and how we will use your money to deliver services that transform the lives of tomorrow's children.