A Gift for Life
Viva!’s Guide to Making a Will
"When Viva! launched in 1994, we promised to be a noisy and effective champion for the animals. And we are! We have grown rapidly but have never lost sight of our original aim - to save animals from pain and suffering by persuading people to stop eating them. In that we have been supremely successful as in 2007 and 2008 - the number of animals slaughtered for meat fell significantly.
"Our environmental campaign has shown that where our compassion led, science followed. There is now no question that the greatest threat to the global environment on almost every front is farmed livestock. Our fight to save animals has also become a fight to save the planet. We are shouting this from the rooftops and at last people are starting to listen.
"By remembering Viva! in your Will, you will help to keep us shouting long after your death, helping us to save animals and promote a kinder, saner, healthier diet. You will remain a part of our campaigns and successes.
"Right from our launch we reached for the stars, punched well above our weight and consequently had some great victories. We have taken on the giants and beaten them! We are still reaching for those stars and would truly appreciate your help as there is much more to do and the urgency has increased. With you behind us we can continue the fight to save animals and to end the rape of this beautiful world. A nation's greatness can be judged by the way it treats its animals was Mahatma Gandhi's belief. It's ours too!
"So, when a tottering calf is prodded and dragged into the killing pen, wide-eyed and terrified, with the stench of blood and death in his nostrils, we are all demeaned. When the captive bolt pistol shatters his forehead, it tears to shreds any concept of compassion - and without its civilising influence, there is little hope for any of us. Thankfully, Viva!'s campaigns are changing people's hearts and minds and their eating habits - the only sure way to save animals. Our call is crystal clear: 'Change your diet, change the world!'
"We have almost ended the sale in Britain of meat from the world's wildlife such as kangaroo, emu and crocodile. We brought about the collapse of the UK's ostrich farming industry. In Poland, we exposed the dreadful trade in live horses sent by road to Italy for meat, and slashed it by two thirds. Viva! destroyed the myth that slaughter is humane by covertly filming both mainstream and ritual religious killing and helping to end 'home' slaughter. We showed the sickening conditions inside intensive pig farms across Britain and launched a campaign to end the practice of confining breeding sows in cruel, metal farrowing crates.
"Our undercover teams showed that most ducks are factory farmed in squalid sheds and are denied all water except to drink. This ended the barbaric practice of 'debeaking' and brought about welfare improvements, including the provision of some water for many birds. Just as importantly, duck meat sales have slumped.
"These teams also turned a spotlight on the appalling conditions inside windowless turkey sheds owned by Britain's leading producers, including Bernard Matthews three Christmases running, and gained major TV and press coverage. Again, turkey meat sales have slumped.
"We have done as much as is humanly possible in a comparatively short space of time with the resources at our disposal. Imagine how much more we could do if we were truly empowered. A legacy will help to ensure our continuing success in saving animals and promoting vegetarian and vegan diets to safeguard the future of our planet. Thank you so much for thinking of including Viva! in your Will."
Yours for the animals
Founder and Director
Thank you for requesting information on leaving a legacy to Viva!. We are entirely dependent on the generosity of you, our supporters, to fund our vital work to stop cruelty to farmed animals and promote an animal-free diet. We are indebted to the many Viva! supporters who have already included us in their Wills, as a legacy to Viva! ensures we will be able to continue our vital work for animals. It also retains your involvement with us long after you've gone.
Leaving a legacy or bequest is easy but we do recommend that you make an appointment to see a solicitor, who will do the work for you and ensure that it is legally sound. It should cost you in the region of £110 (more if your Will is complex). Please see 'Making Your Will'.
Viva! is a Charity
Viva!'s registered charity number is 1037486 and its address is 8 York Court, Wilder Street, Bristol, BS2 8QH. Tel 0117 944 1000 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm).
Why make a Will?
Leaving a Will means that your wishes will be carried out and that your Estate will be distributed as you wish. If you do not make a Will, the law will decide where your money goes, which may not be as you wish. A Will is a legal document and failing to leave one can mean a lengthy and possibly expensive process for your relatives. Merely writing down your wishes may not be legally enforceable.
Even if you are married, without a Will your spouse may be entitled to all your assets only if you have no other living relatives. It could mean having to sell the family house to give other relatives their share. Unmarried couples fare even worse - if there is no Will, the surviving partner is often not entitled to anything, even the house they have been living in.
If you have no relatives or partner, the Government will keep everything if you die 'intestate' (not having a Will).
None of this need happen if a Will is drawn up. You decide who gets what from your Estate, leaving no room for doubt or the possibility of costly legal fees in the case of arguments.
Wills are also the best way to ensure that friends and groups such as Viva! are remembered and receive the gifts you intended.
What a Will covers
Your Will covers how your entire Estate is to be distributed and you can include instructions about such things as your funeral arrangements and the care of companion animals.
Is it time to change or amend your Will?
If you get married, remarried, divorced or separated it is important to review your Will and make amendments as necessary.
It is important to remember to include your children (if you wish) in any Will.
Simple amends can be made by adding what's called a Codicil (see below), which, like your main Will, must be witnessed by two people. Keep any Codicils with your Will.
If you intend to make major changes, it may be best to have a new Will written.
Adding Viva! to your existing Will
If you already have a Will, you can choose to support Viva!'s work by adding a Codicil to it. Viva! can help you with the wording (and send you a Codicil form, or see our web site www.viva.org.uk/legacy) and then all you need do is send it to your solicitor. Call Juliet Gellatley, Director, on 0117 944 1000 or email email@example.com. Alternatively, ask your solicitor for help - amending a Will in this way is surprisingly easy and inexpensive.
Your Estate is everything you own or part-own, including assets such as property, cash, shares or income from a trust.
It is useful to draw up a list of your assets before going to a solicitor - however, you do not need to list everything you own, merely the main items, anything that is of special value or items you wish to leave to a named individual. Remember to include: your house; car and other vehicles; furniture; art or collections such as stamps and coins, or other items of value.
List your bank accounts and any investments you have - include all your bank and building society accounts, premium bonds, stocks and shares, insurance policies, pension benefits and any money owed to you.
You will also need to list what you owe - your liabilities. These include mortgages and outstanding loans, credit cards, household bills and overdrafts. These liabilities will be the first things paid from your Estate.
If your total Estate is worth more than £325,000*, everything above this figure will be liable for inheritance tax, payable to the Government at a rate of 40 per cent. (*The figure of £325,000 is correct at the time of printing this booklet. However it will change, so please consult your solicitor about the current value.) There are a number of gifts that can be made which will reduce the value of your Estate and therefore the amount of inheritance tax you have to pay. These include, for example, gifts to your spouse or to UK registered Charities, both of which are 'exempt' and free of inheritance tax.
Example: Your Estate is worth £390,000. The inheritance tax payable is £26,000 (arrived at by deducting the tax free allowance of £325,000, leaving £65,000 subject to tax. At 40 per cent this amounts to £26,000). However, if you leave £35,000 to your spouse and £35,000 to a charity, there would be no inheritance tax payable on your Estate (£390,000 - £70,000 = £320,000, which is below the current threshold for inheritance tax).
This is the person or persons who will oversee your wishes and should be named in your Will. After your death, they will be granted Probate, which gives them the legal right to distribute your Estate and sell property, investments and other assets as necessary. Often, a solicitor is named as Executor but they do charge for this service as do banks, who tend to charge even more than solicitors. You can choose whoever you want to be an Executor but it can be a complicated process so be sure they are willing to do it. You can appoint up to four Executors, who can also be beneficiaries in your Will if that's what you want.
Viva! as Your Executor
Sometimes, people who leave Viva! a gift in their Will also choose our founder & director, Juliet Gellatley, as their Executor. If you do this, you can rest assured that your affairs will be handled sensitively and the best price will be obtained for those things in your Estate that need to be sold - your house and its contents for example. Viva! will take time and trouble to ensure that your wishes are carried out as you would want and makes no charge for this service. If you would like us to act for you as Executor, please contact Juliet Gellatley, Director, on 0117 944 1000 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can write to Juliet at Viva!, 8 York Court, Wilder Street, Bristol BS2 8QH.
The Beneficiaries of Your Will
Decide how you want to divide up your Estate. You may want to leave everything to one person or organisation or give specific items or sums of money to different people or groups such as Viva!. All these are your beneficiaries.
Specific gifts are items such as artwork, books, jewellery or a stated amount of money. Of course, the value of these can change over time so it is worth reviewing your Will every few years.
After these specific gifts have been distributed and all outstanding expenses have been paid (funeral costs, unpaid bills, legal fees etc), what is left is the balance of your Estate. This is called the Residue. You can split this any way you wish - give it to one or several beneficiaries. For instance, you could leave 50 per cent of the Residue to your partner and then half of the remaining 50 per cent to each of two organisations.
A Gift for Life
By leaving a legacy to Viva!, you will be making a lasting gift which will continue to have an impact long after your death. There are four main ways of doing it.
A Residual Bequest.
This is when you leave the Residue from your Estate after all other bequests and costs have been deducted.
This is when you want to leave Viva! a specific sum of money (over time, inflation can erode its value so it's worth reviewing the situation every few years). Another option is to leave Viva! a specific proportion of your Estate.
A Percentage of Your Estate.
For example, you could specify a gift to Viva! of 50 per cent of the value of your Estate. If your Estate was worth £50,000, this 50 per cent Bequest would mean a gift of £25,000. If you specified 10 per cent, the gift would be £5,000.
A Non-Money Specific Gift.
This could be a house, car, jewellery, painting etc., which Viva! could then sell or make use of.
Wording of your Will
Should you decide to include Viva! in your Will, you'll need to use legal wording and to include our full name and address.
For a Residual Bequest
" I give the Residue of my Estate to Viva! Campaigns Ltd (company reg. no. 4161147) of 8 York Court, Wilder Street, Bristol BS2 8QH, for its general purposes and I direct that the receipt of the Treasurer or duly authorised officer shall be a valid and appropriate form of discharge."
For a Pecuniary Gift
" I give the sum of £_______ to Viva! Campaigns Ltd (company reg. no. 4161147) of 8 York Court, Wilder Street, Bristol BS2 8QH, for its general purposes and I direct that the receipt of the Treasurer or duly authorised officer shall be a valid and appropriate form of discharge."
For a Percentage Gift
" I give ______% of my Estate to Viva! Campaigns Ltd (company reg. no. 4161147) of 8 York Court, Wilder Street, Bristol BS2 8QH, for its general purposes and I direct that the receipt of the Treasurer or duly authorised officer shall be a valid and appropriate form of discharge."
For a Non-Money Specific Gift eg a house/flat
" I give to Viva! Campaigns Ltd (company reg. no. 4161147) of 8 York Court, Wilder Street, Bristol BS2 8QH, for its general purposes all my share and interest in my house (or flat) known as (full address) absolutely and I direct that the receipt of the Treasurer or duly authorised officer shall be a valid and appropriate form of discharge."
Making Your Will
The safest way of drawing up a Will is to go along to a solicitors with all this information and get them to write it for you. It should cost upwards of £110 plus VAT, depending on complexity. The best place to start is by asking friends if they can recommend a good firm of solicitors. Yellow Pages are also useful - phone a few solicitors and get some quotes. Alternatively, you can ask the Law Society (Tel: 0207 242 1222) for the names of solicitors in your area who specialise in this work. They aren't allowed to recommend a specific solicitor but will give you a list of qualified firms.
Keeping Your Will Safe
It is very important to keep your Will in a safe place and send a copy to your Executors, telling them where the original is kept. You may also want to send a copy to your main beneficiaries. Don't forget to keep a copy yourself so you can check the details if your circumstances change. You can deposit the original with your solicitor or bank.
A Legacy to Viva!
Leaving a legacy to Viva! will ensure that our important work continues. We have achieved some great successes since we started and funds are our lifeblood, vital if we are to carry on with our campaigns to saved farmed animals from cruelty and suffering and help people go vegetarian and vegan. Your legacy will help us to keep going with this vital work. It will save animals.
Legal Language in Plain English!
Beneficiary or Legatee
Any group, organisation, company, charity or individual that is left a gift in your Will.
A gift made in your Will to a specific group, organisation, company, charity or individual.
An addition to your existing Will which makes small changes.
Chattels and Moveables
Your personal possessions such as car, jewellery, paintings and furniture.
Crown or Treasury
The taxman. If you leave no Will and have no relatives, the government will take everything.
Your Estate is everything that you own or part-own at the time of your death, and includes property, cash, savings, shares, cars, investments, life assurance and income from a trust.
The person or people named in your Will responsible for seeing that your wishes are carried out.
Intestate and Intestacy
Not leaving a Will or leaving one that is invalid or incomplete.
The same as bequest.
Any debts that have to be paid from your Estate, such as household bills and funeral expenses.
A specific amount of money made as a gift from your Estate.
The legal procedure to establish that your Will is valid and gives the executor(s) the right to act on your behalf.
The value of your Estate when all debts, taxes, legacies and fees have been deducted.
Residual Bequest/Residual Legacy
A gift to any group, organisation, company, charity or individual from the residue of your Estate.
The person you're married to. If you are living with someone as husband and wife but are not married, they do not qualify as a spouse.
You - the person making the Will!
If you intend to leave a legacy to Viva!, it will help us enormously to know what it is so that we can plan more accurately for the future. This pledge is simply a declaration of your current intentions, has no legal implications and is in no way binding!
Viva! (Vegetarians International Voice for Animals)
8 York Court, Wilder Street, Bristol BS2 8QH, UK