Home Legacy Futures logo

In a general election, many charities use the opportunity to engage with politicians and the public on their causes and issues, to make them relevant to the campaign. Of course, they need to be mindful of the guidance on election activity from the Charity Commission and the Electoral Commission. (Should you need help with that, the NCVO has useful information.)

But what will it mean for legacies?

The immediate impact of the dissolution of Parliament was that the Justice Select Committee inquiry in to probate will not now produce a report. This is disappointing, but the scrutiny has already helped support HMCTS’s move to more transparency, and also its welcome return to more effective and timely processing of probate applications. The Chair of the committee has written publicly to the Justice Secretary setting out key findings and suggestions for improvement. Those recommendations will be on the desk of the incoming minister after the election, whoever it is.

In terms of legacy income for charities, we don’t expect the election to have any substantial effect in the short to medium term. The precise timing may have come as a surprise, but an election at some point this year had long been expected. Most economists were pricing in the change of government that the polls suggest is the most likely outcome on 4th July. So we don’t expect a sudden change in economic outlook that would affect our forecast of bequest values and thus legacy income. Uncertainty may mean the housing market slows down, further lengthening delays between notification of a bequest and receipt of income, but that effect is unlikely to last much longer than the campaign.

However, the choice of the next government – and what it chooses to do when in power – may well have an effect on the legacy market in the longer term. That could be immediately and directly (e.g. changes to inheritance tax) and also long term and indirectly (e.g. changes in wealth and attitudes to charitable giving). Which takes us back to where we started: a general election – and the fresh start provided by a newly-elected government – provides a great opportunity for charities to engage with politicians and the public on their causes and issues – and those include the vital role that legacies play in supporting charities.