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Legacy Futures Team

Legacy incomes rising

The legacy income received by our 82 leading charity consortium members is continuing to rise quickly, totalling £1.69bn over the 12 months to June 2022. This maintains the previous trend seen in our Q1 2022 Legacy Monitor (available here) and is 15% higher than the level reached over the prior 12 months, thanks to healthy rises in bequest values.

Higher value of residual gifts

Our analysis shows that the average value of residual gifts received across our consortium has increased by 7.3% over the last 12 months, bolstered by continued rises in house prices. ONS data show that the average UK house price rose by 12.8% in the 12 months to May 2022, with particularly rapid growth in the South West, East Midlands and East of England. The ongoing rise in house prices should continue to support strong growth in residual gift values over the next 12 months.

However, rising interest rates and falling consumer confidence could impact on property prices in 2023 and 2024, which may result in more measured legacy income growth over the medium term.

At the moment the cost of living crisis, whilst being a concern to charities, is unlikely to have an immediate impact on legacy giving behaviour. However, as part of a more generalised sense of uncertainty, it could result in longer-term shifts in giving patterns.

Our Economist, Jon Franklin says:

With house price growth set to slow, and potentially even reverse, the sector should prepare for a period of more sluggish legacy income growth through 2023 and 2024.

Number of bequests drops

Our data show that bequest numbers were around 1.3% lower over the three months to June 2022 compared to the same period last year. However, this was broadly in line with what we would have expected, given the number of deaths and volume of grants of probate issued over the period.

Latest analysis suggests that there remains a backlog of around 24,000 probate cases at HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). It does appear that HMCTS has made some progress over the last three months, although not substantially, reducing the cases still to be dealt with by around 3,000. However, the overall level of the outstanding cases has remained at a similarly high level since mid-2020.

At Legacy Foresight we estimate that clearing the case backlog could generate around 11,000 further charitable notifications over the coming months.

Jon Franklin adds:

The last few years have been challenging, so this long term trend of growth is positive to see. Bequest numbers are high, although lower than we might expect, and if the backlog from HMCTS is reduced, there could be a real boom in numbers and income.

Keep up to date with the latest legacy market changes

Find out more about the Legacy Monitor

Legacy Monitor is the quarterly benchmarking programme from our Legacy Foresight team, gathering data from over 80 charities who account for around 50% of the UK legacy market. Through the Legacy Monitor, we compile market data for strategic analysis and enable participating charities to track and benchmark their legacy performance.

In the full report we share the latest statistics on bequest numbers and residual gift values, as well as commentary around the potential impact of the cost of living crisis on legacy incomes.