Bequest myths unravelled

Australians as a whole have the giving habit, with 70% of us supporting charities. And when asked, 29% of people say they’d be willing to leave a gift in their will once family and friends had been provided for. The trouble is only 7.5% of Australians actually end up doing that.

There are a few myths surrounding bequests which might discourage potential supporters. Let’s clear those up.

1. Only wealthy people leave money to charity

It’s a common misconception that only wealthy people leave money to charity when they die. The reality is that most bequests are made by people who’ve lived ordinary lives, but make an extraordinary difference to their community after they’re gone.

Bequests form the financial basis of most major Australian charities and are absolutely essential for ensuring the good work they do continues into the future. Last year in 2011, the Neuroscience Research Australia Foundation was honoured to receive bequests from the estates of six supporters.

2. Leaving a bequest is difficult

The perception that leaving a bequest is difficult is wrong – it’s actually an easy process, though we do advise using a solicitor or trustee company. Including a charity in your will is just as easy as providing for your loved ones, and your donation makes a difference regardless of the size. And it can be either free upfront or at nominal cost, and a simple will can sometimes be completed at the same time of your first appointment. For example, the NSW Trustee and Guardian or State Trustees (Victoria) are public bodies which can do this.

You could leave a percentage of your estate to the Neuroscience Research Australia Foundation, or make a specific gift of a sum of money or donate a particular property then leave the “residue” to charities. You can even designate your bequest to a particular aspect of our research; however, we would appreciate talking with you about this first so that we can be sure to meet your wishes.Legal document

3. There isn’t a good time to think about leaving a bequest

There are many life events which make it important to update your will. Having a child, taking an overseas trip, contracting a disease, getting married, selling property or retiring are all common triggers for an update.

If you do not have all your desires in your will and if you do not have the benefit of good legal advice then your affairs after your death will be longer and more expensive to resolve. This may be an extra burden for family and friends at the worst possible time.

Now we have unravelled some bequest myths, we hope to encourage you to seize the day and become part of the special group of Australians that help the work of charities continue beyond the scope of their own lifetime.

Bequest Manager Leonie Harle would welcome your inquiry on behalf of Neuroscience Research Australia and can be contacted at or 02 9399 1153. You can also find out more at our bequest information page.

Roewen Wishart is the NeuRA Foundation Director and has over 20 years experience in the fundraising and philanthropic sectors.

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