Leaving a lasting legacy

We are privileged if we are in a position to leave a mark of our passing, to be remembered by those people and causes we've cared for in life. A gift in your Will to the Church of Scotland is one of the most valuable and lasting ways you can continue to support its mission and its ministry.

Your legacy can make a difference to your local congregation and community. For example, it may be used to:

  • Train or employ a specialist worker
  • Resource Christian education, community projects or children and young people's work
  • Provide audio-visual equipment to aid worship
  • Improve a church building's accessibility, flexibility or aesthetics.

A legacy gift to the national Church enables work which might not otherwise be possible. A legacy given without restrictions can be allocated where needed to sustain:

  • Worship, ministry, mission and pastoral care
  • Social action, social care and practical help for those who need it most
  • Community programmes and meeting places in every parish.

No matter how large or small, your gift can make a significant and lasting impact.

Find out how to leave a gift in your will

Leaving a gift in your Will is a statement of love, gratitude and appreciation for the people and causes you have valued and loved in life. We may know that it is a good idea to have a Will in place, but for many of us it is one of those things we never quite get around to doing. Making a Will and keeping it updated are the only ways to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death, giving you peace of mind that your family and friends are provided for and the causes you love are supported.

Seeking professional advice

Your Will is a legal document so it is vital to have it drafted or updated by someone who is legally qualified. We advise you to seek the help of a solicitor. They will ensure that your wishes are clearly drafted in accordance with the law. The Law Society of Scotland can help you find a local solicitor. There are a number of free, low-cost or charity schemes available, including the Will Aid initiative which runs each November.

Types of gifts

There are three different types of gift you can make in your Will:

  • A pecuniary legacy is a gift of a fixed sum of money of your choosing. This type of gift will decrease in value over time owing to inflation.
  • A specific legacy is a gift of a specific item, eg land or property or other assets
  • A residuary legacy is a gift of what is left (or part of what is left) after all other bequests and debts have been paid. This can be more beneficial to charities as the gift will not decrease in value due to inflation.

Your gift, your choice

There are different ways to support the work of the Church. You may wish to leave a gift in your Will to your local congregation, to the national Church or to a specific sphere of work. A combination of these three is also possible.

Wording for your Will

Here is suggested wording should you decide to leave a gift in your Will to the Church of Scotland:

"I leave to:
the Church of Scotland of 121 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4YN, Scottish Charity No. SC011353;
the congregation of [insert charity name and number] (or the successor congregation within the Church of Scotland);
the sum of £x [insert the amount in words];
a proportion [insert %] of the residue of my estate;
[insert specific item] free of all taxes for its general purposes;
and I direct that the receipt by the General Treasurer or other duly authorised officer of the Church of Scotland shall be a sufficient discharge to my executors and trustees."

Inheritance Tax

The Church of Scotland and each of its Scottish congregations are registered charities. This means that a gift in your Will to the Church or a congregation is exempt from Inheritance Tax. Your solicitor will be able to advise you further on this. You can see an overview about this tax on the HMRC website here.

Legacy stories from congregations

A gift in your Will really can make a difference, enabling our congregations to launch outreach projects, employ specialist workers, carry out much needed refurbishments and provide longer term sustainability. Here are just a few stories from churches which have recently benefitted from legacies:

North Berwick: St Andrew Blackadder

This congregation received a legacy from someone who had been a faithful worshipper and member of their faith community for many years. As well as attending on Sundays, the benefactor had loved being part of the Guild. She chose to make St Andrew Blackadder one of the charities who received a portion of her estate.

The Kirk Session has been able to do three things with the money she left which it would not have been able to do otherwise: (1) establishing a bursary to help members with the costs of attending an event or a conference, or participating in a trip or project which will help them explore or express their faith in Jesus Christ; (2) covering degree level training costs for an apprentice Youth Worker; and (3) dealing with urgent unbudgeted repairs to the plaster work in the sanctuary.

Carluke: St Andrew's

This congregation received a significant legacy of £1.2 million pounds. As well as dealing with some outstanding fabric issues, the money was invested to provide a salary for a youth worker. As a result of that appointment, Scripture Union groups were set up in local schools, stronger links were made with the congregation's associated youth organisations, a visit was made by the African Children's Choir and a family away day was held. The youth worker also assists the minister in the leading of worship and with developing creative projects within the church.

Ardrossan: Park

This congregation received a legacy of £13,000 which was used in a number of ways. A new digital piano and sound systems were purchased to enhance worship; a new cooker was installed; and some money was directed towards a new car park. The church is now able to hold events such as Messy Church services and to generate income through hall lets. The new car park has significantly improved accessibility to the church, particularly for funerals and weddings. A small proportion of the legacy gift was reserved for future needs.

Contact information

Please direct enquiries, donations and legacies to:

The General Treasurer
Church of Scotland
121 George Street
Email: amacintosh@churchofscotland.org.uk

Legacies received are published monthly in Life and Work.