A bequest is simply a legal term for a gift that is made as part of a will or trust. A bequest can be to a person, or it can be a charitable bequest to a nonprofit organisation, trust or foundation. Anyone can make a bequest—in any amount—to an individual or charity.

Bequests can be gifts of property, like a painting, jewellery, car or cash (e.g. $10,000 to the SPCA). Bequests are a way to support the people and causes you care about after you’re gone and to leave an enduring legacy.

Charitable bequests

For many charitable or not for profit organisations, bequests are an important source of funding. It can be difficult to choose who you want to benefit from your bequest.

Consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • What do you care about and is there a local or global organisation that aligns with your values?
  • What organisations are needing support?
  • Where do you see your legacy living on?
  • What kind of gift will you leave? Property? Some kind of useful asset? Money?
  • Are you unsure but know you want to leave something to charity?
  • Do you want your gift to be short or long term?

Bequests can be challenged by your family if they don’t feel adequately provided for. Consider the amount you wish to leave so that it is not likely to be contested, or discuss your reasoning and charitable interests with family where possible.

Registered charities

The Charities Register is a database of all registered charities in New Zealand that might help you to make informed decisions of where you might like to offer support.

You can be specific about where you want your funds to go, or you can nominate an area of interest, and The Gift Trust will make gifts to the organisations that are doing the most good in that area.

Personal bequests

When adding personal bequests to your will, there are a few different types of bequests to consider:

  • Specific bequest: A gift you make of a particular item or sum of money, which is given to a specified recipient. For example: “I leave my engagement ring to my daughter, Alice. I leave my wedding ring to my daughter, Nicola, and my diamond earrings to my grand-daughter Kyla.”
  • Demonstrative bequest: This is where you give a gift of money that is to be paid when a specific item is sold. For example: “I leave my brother the proceeds from the sale of my car.”
  • General bequest: Here, you give a sum of money to a specific recipient. For example: “I leave $10,000 to each of my grandchildren.”
  • Reversionary bequest: Sets out who is next in line to get a gift, if the beneficiary you originally proposed dies before you do. For example: “I leave my mother’s pearls to my daughter, but if she predeceases me, I leave it to my niece, Maxine.”
  • Conditional bequest: The beneficiary must meet certain conditions before they receive the assets. These conditions might include getting married, having children, going to university, and so on. For example: “I leave my son $50,000, providing he uses the money as the deposit for the purchase of a property.” or “I leave $10,000 to my grandson, providing he graduates from University”
  • Residual bequest: Wraps up the remaining value of your estate, after you have made all the other bequests, and any debts and tax demands have been settled. It will normally be made to a spouse or partner, or children, but there are no rules, and you may choose to leave the remainder to a charity. For example: “I leave the remainder of my estate to my husband.”

How is a bequest distributed?

There are different types of gifts/bequests that can be made. If it is a general gift of money, it will be paid into the person’s bank account. If it is a specific gift of property e.g. a car, it would transfer on delivery to the person and change of ownership papers being completed.

Leaving a bequest for your local hospice

Making a provision in your will to donate to your local Hospice is a way of honouring and supporting your community after you have gone. You may want to leave a percentage of your estate or a specific gift such as a monetary amount, a property or belongings.

Bequests are a way to support the people and causes you care about after you’re gone and to leave an enduring legacy.