Will Writing Services for Charities – Dubious

Will services by charities are popping up more frequently on television advertisements.  At first these were discretely advertised on social media.  Charities are offering free Will writing services in return for a donation to be included in the Will. 

Have charities really sunk so low that they think that it is perfectly acceptable to resort to this sleazy way of operating?  Also, it is a business risk for a number of reasons: Wills contested in the law courts by disgruntled relatives, future Will changes, people live a long time after having their Will written and accusations of coercion.

Can you image the meetings at a charity discussing donations progress?

Rupert   “Ok everybody, thank you for attending the Monthly Fundraising Meeting.  Before we start, we have a new member attending our regular Fundraising Meetings, so let’s start the meeting by introducing ourselves.  I’ll start. I’m Rupert.  I am Director of Fundraising”
Tarquin “I’m Tarquin and I am responsible for Legacy Funding”
Bruce “I’m Bruce and I am responsible for Business Development Opportunities”
Penelope “I’m Penelope, I’m new to the charity, I am responsible for Grant Fundraising”
Rupert   “First item on the agenda is Key Performance Indicators.  How are the figures for the Legacy category? Penelope, we’ve been running a Wills Writing Service project.  This is our second year.  Tarquin?”
Tarquin “Well, we have 10 new Wills written”
Rupert “We had set a target 20.  What is the value of the estates and how much have we been put down for?”
Tarquin “Errm … the estates are valued at £3,475,400 and we’re down for £370,000”
Rupert “So only just over 10%.  That’s not very much is it?”
Tarquin “So … we have managed to get 100% from some people.  We are gradually upping our percentage contribution.”
Rupert “That’s good.  Give me an example.”
Tarquin “Well, there’s Mrs Drew, she’s 64 years old, she’s giving us 100% of her estate.
Rupert “How much is her estate worth?”
Tarquin “£50,000”
Rupert “Oh!”
Bruce “We have plenty in the pipeline after our tv advert had quite a few people contacted our call centre.  We’ve updated the call centre staff script so we can increase our conversion rates, so we should see the numbers of go up.  Also, our new tv advert is timed to target the elderly.”
Rupert “Good What about income received from Will donations.  Anyone died recently?”
Tarquin “I’m afraid not.”
Rupert “How much was the solicitors bill for these new Wills to be produced?”
Bruce “£1,000”
Rupert “Oh!”
Penelope “May I ask, how much has been raised from the Wills Project?”
Bruce “Well, errm, to date the figures are quite good because we have over £10m that we’re allocated for in the Wills that we’ve paid for.”
Penelope “What happens if donors decide to change their Wills?”
Bruce “They won’t.”
Penelope “Are you sure?  Has anyone changed their Will?”
Bruce “No.  People don’t change their Wills.”
Penelope “How do you know?  Have you asked the donors if they still have the same Wills?”
Bruce “No.”
Penelope “How much has the Wills project cost the charity? “
Rupert “Good question.  We have Tarquin, the call centre staff have been trained in the scripts, legal costs, planning meetings, progress meetings, advertisement costs.  Hmm…”

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