Legacy Management in itself requires a legacy officer to wear an array of hats: administrator, counsellor, property expert and accountant to name only a few. All of these roles come together to make sure each legacy is properly and fully received.
One of the key responsibilities is to optimise legacy income wherever possible, by being able to identify the opportunities relating to the sale of assets, mitigating tax, or identifying cost-saving opportunities. In doing so, the legacy officer can ensure the wishes of the donor are respected, and their gift makes the biggest impact for the charity after they have gone.
Another key responsibility of a legacy officer is in representing the charity’s trustees and protecting their positions. The charities’ governing body, the Charity Commission, exists to ensure that charities are accountable, well-run and fulfil their charitable obligations. By making sure that the full value of a legacy is received, via proper administration and provision of documents including estate accounts, a legacy officer makes sure the trustees are protected in their responsibility to the Charity Commission.
A legacy officer must also be able to identify contentious, or potentially contentious, situations – be they fraud, mental capacity claims, Inheritance Act 1975 claims or otherwise. Part of a charity’s obligation to maximise the value of a legacy includes defending claims where necessary, and so a legacy officer must be able to identify these as they arise and deal with them where necessary, and in a timely manner.
A legacy officer can also be a great public relations advocate for legacy giving. They can represent your charity at events and other functions, with the ability to talk knowledgeably and persuasively about the impact legacy giving has on your charity, the difference that legacies have made, and also may give advice about the practicalities of making a will to anyone who is considering leaving a legacy themselves.
Similarly, a good legacy officer should implicitly encourage legacy giving through behaving professionally and constructively in their engagement with professional executors. If a solicitor has had a good experience dealing with your charity in the course of an administration, it is possible they will be more likely to speak positively about you to their clients and colleagues.
Legacy marketing is also an area in which a legacy officer will be able to have useful input. Legacy officers will be key to providing statistics and background regarding any legacies received, and in the pipeline. This information can assist in ensuring future marketing campaigns are targeted for optimum return.
From time to time – hopefully not too often – a difficult matter may arise during the course of an administration and an unhappy family member, friend or lay executor will indicate that they will be contacting the media. A legacy officer must be able to liaise quickly and comprehensively with your media team so that they are in a position to put your charity’s position properly and fairly to the media, if required.
Hopefully this shows that the range and scope of benefits that a legacy officer brings goes far beyond the actual legacy administration itself, and that a myriad of skills and experience are required to bring the most to the role.
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