Leaving a bequest or legacy (terms which are often used interchangeably and refer to a gift or property left in a Will) to the Methodist Church is a way that you can continue to support the Mission of the Church locally or Connexionally through your Will.
A Will is probably the most important document you will sign as it is the only way to ensure that the people and charitable causes close to your heart will benefit after you have gone.
For the avoidance of doubt, in this Guidance Note legacies and bequests are referred to as ‘Gift/s’.
References to the ‘Methodist Church’ in this Guidance Note include references to local Methodist Churches, Circuits, Districts or Connexional Funds.
Section A - Who is this Guidance Note for?
This Guidance Note is intended to provide information to anyone who is thinking about leaving a Gift to the Methodist Church through their Will. It also provides help for solicitors or legal advisers that are drafting wills for clients who have expressed an interest in leaving such a Gift.
Section B - Ways in which a Gift can be left to the Methodist Church
There are three ways you can leave a Gift to the Methodist Church through your Will which will be in the form of either money or a specific item:
B1 A Pecuniary Gift
This is a Gift for a specified set amount of money. These are payable immediately after your estate liabilities and expenses have been settled.
B2 A Residuary Gift
This is a Gift for a percentage of, or all of your estate that remains after all debts, liabilities and administration costs have been paid along with all pecuniary legacies. Unlike a pecuniary legacy, this type of Gift takes account of inflation and therefore the value of the Gift to the Methodist Church will remain constant over the course of time.
B3 A Specific Gift
This is a Gift of a specific item of value such as a piece of jewellery, art or a music collection.
Once you have decided what you are going to leave to the Methodist Church, you may leave the Gift either:
- with restrictions; or
- as a permanent endowment.
The most common and preferred option is an unconditional Gift which will enable Managing Trustees to decide exactly how the monies should be used by the Methodist Church. These are known as Model Trust Gifts (the Model Trusts being the trusts upon which most of Methodist property and money is held).
Section C - How to leave a Gift to the Methodist Church
C1 How to Leave an Unconditional Gift
An unconditional Gift can be left to the Methodist Church by using the following example wording in your Will.
|“I GIVE to the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes of Central Buildings Oldham Street Manchester M1 1JQ (registered charity number 1136358) (hereinafter called “the Board”) [the sum of £1,000] or [XX% share of my residue estate] free of all inheritance tax and other tax or duty leviable in any part of the world at my death to be held by the Board as custodian trustees upon the Model Trusts for the time being contained in the Methodist Church Act 1976 AND I DESIRE the said sum to be applied for the local purposes (as defined in the said Act) of the [xxxxxxxxxxx] Methodist Church”.|
TMCP are the custodian trustees for virtually all Methodist property, which includes money. The money left under the example above is held by TMCP on trust for the sole use of the Methodist Church which is named in the Will, at the direction of its Managing Trustees. The Managing Trustees may then request those monies at any time for their general purposes and for furthering the Mission of the Methodist Church.
The advantage of leaving an unconditional Gift is that by virtue of section 15 of the Methodist Church Act 1976, the Gift will not fail and be lost to Methodism should the Methodist Church in question have ceased to exist at the time the Will comes into operation. By following procedures that are set out in Part 2 of Book VI of the Standing Orders contained in the Constitutional Practice and Discipline of the Methodist Church, better known as the Consultation Process, TMCP will work with Local Churches, Circuits and Districts to determine who the new Managing Trustees of the Gift should be.
For example, this will normally be the Local Church where the former members of the closed church now worship. If no successor Local Church can be found, then it would be normal for the Gift to be directed to the Circuit for mission work in the vicinity of the closed church.
If an agreement cannot be reached by the Local Church, Circuit or District then the Connexional Team will be asked to make the final decision as to where trusteeship of the Gift should lie.
C2 How to Leave a Restricted Gift
If you would like to leave a Gift for a specific purpose (a restricted gift) then the following example wording can be adapted to provide details of your wishes. Your solicitor or legal adviser should however advise you as to the most appropriate form of wording:
|‘I GIVE the sum of £1,000 to the [NAME] Methodist Church on trust and I DIRECT that the said sum be applied for the [upkeep] of the church’|
You should bear in mind that if the Methodist Church named in your Will has closed by the time your Will comes into operation, the Gift will fail and revert to your residue estate, even if the Gift has been left to TMCP as custodian trustees. You may therefore wish to consider an alternative use for the Gift in the event of the chosen Methodist Church not being in existence. One example could be to leave it to the Circuit Meeting for the upkeep of chapels within the Circuit.
C3 How to Leave a Permanent Endowment
A permanent endowment is a trust that has generally been established either by a person’s Will or by way of a Trust Deed. As a normal rule, the capital investment cannot be touched and only the income can be used by the Managing Trustees of the Methodist Church as directed by the Will or Trust Deed.
The income can be restricted to use for a particular purpose or fund or left for the general purposes of the Methodist Church. Below are two common forms of wording, but again your solicitor or professional adviser will be able to assist you further:
|‘I GIVE to the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes (hereinafter called ‘the Board’) the sum of £1,000 free of duty for which the receipt of the secretary for the time being or other authorised officer shall be sufficient discharge and I DIRECT that the said sum of £1,000 shall be invested by the Board in any of the investments for the time being authorised by law for the investment of trust funds and that the income thereof shall be paid from time to time to the treasurer of the [NAME] Methodist Church to be applied for the [upkeep] of the chapel’|
|‘I GIVE to the [NAME] Methodist Church a twenty five percent share of my residue estate and I DIRECT that the income shall be applied for the upkeep of the chapel’|
Further guidance on permanent endowments will soon be available in the Permanent Endowment Guidance Note.
Section D - What if I have already made a Will
If you already have a Will and you want to make a small amendment to it such as adding a beneficiary or vary the amount you have left to a person, you can do this by asking your legal adviser to draw up a Codicil to your Will. This must refer to your last Will and is effectively an addendum to it but it saves the time and expense of having a new Will drafted to take account of the minor changes you may want to make to your Will.
Section E - Advantages of Leaving a Gift to the Methodist Church
As a charity, the Methodist Church is subject to different tax regulations. There are certain charity tax concessions which the Methodist Church benefits from. Not only are Gifts to the Methodist Church exempt from Inheritance Tax, but if 10% or more of your net estate is left to charity, then this will reduce the Inheritance Tax liability on legacies that are left to non-charities which cannot claim charitable relief. Further details can be found at the Government’s website: https://www.gov.uk/donating-to-charity/leaving-gifts-to-charity-in-your-will
If you have any queries in relation to leaving a legacy to the Methodist Church then please contact TMCP for further guidance.
Please note that this document is to provide guidance and assistance to Managing Trustees and their professional advisers. This guidance note is general in nature, may not reflect all recent legal developments and may not apply to the specific facts and circumstances of any particular matter.
Also note that nothing within the documents and guidance notes provided by TMCP nor any receipt or use of such information, should be construed or relied on as advertising or soliciting to provide any legal services. Nor does it create any solicitor-client relationship or provide any legal representation, advice or opinion whatsoever on behalf of TMCP or its employees.
Accordingly, neither TMCP nor its employees accept any responsibility for use of this document or action taken as a result of information provided in it.
Please remember that Managing Trustees need to take advice that is specific to the situation at hand. This document is not legal advice and is no substitute for such advice from Managing Trustees' own legal advisers.