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Imagine if your charity’s trustees had to consider and approve every set of estate accounts, sign every legacy receipt, and sign off all the decisions associated with the administration of an estate in which your charity has an interest. Sounds tiresome, laborious and impractical, right?

The bad news is that without a chain of authority in place, delegating responsibility for legacy administration duties to others within your organisation, this is exactly what your charity trustees should be doing.

The good news however, comes in the form of delegated authority, and Legacy Link can assist in developing a suitable document specific to your charity.

What is delegated authority?

Delegated authority allows charity trustees to assign some of their powers to internal committees, individual trustees, or employees, so they can carry out specific tasks or make certain decisions on behalf of the charity. In particular for us to allow key decisions in Legacy Administration.

How does it apply to legacy administration?

From standard duties such as approving estate accounts and acknowledging receipt of legacy income, to more complex tasks such as instructing external solicitors or assuming or renouncing the role of executor, delegated authority is needed to cover all of these areas and more.

It’s a case of supporting your Legacy Officer’s expertise and allowing them to take appropriate decisions on the charity’s behalf.

What happens if the charity doesn’t have this in place?

Without a delegation of powers, administration and management duties should not be undertaken by anyone other than the charity’s trustees. It can lead to delays in terms of getting the senior team available, briefed and happy to sign what are often complex and intimidating documents.

To do otherwise presents risks for not only the trustees but also the employees involved as, even if acting in good faith, both could find themselves personally liable if an issue were to arise later down the line and can lead to significant delays in responding to the estate administrators if it is required to wait for a board meeting for a decision by the charity.

My charity already has this in place so we are covered, right?

Not necessarily. Delegation of powers is ever evolving. With ongoing changes to job roles, financial limits, and legislation, it is advisable that these are reviewed at least annually by the board to ensure that the level of delegation is still appropriate to the staff in post. It is worth keeping in mind that while Trustees can delegate the authority to act on their behalf, overall responsibility still rests with the Trustees.

It is also worth noting that whilst a scheme of delegation can allow charity trustees to assign a large part of their powers relating to legacy administration and management, there are still some limits, the Legacy Link team are more than happy to guide you in choosing the levels of delegation you need.

A well considered scheme of delegation will ensure all powers which can be assigned to others are appropriately delegated bearing in mind the charity’s (and the trustees’) individual needs and requirements, whilst also ensuring it does not overreach its legal limits.

Our clients really value the work we have done on implementing a Scheme of Delegation:

Jordan Miller-Hughes from NHS Charities Together has recently worked with our team to introduce a suitable Scheme of Delegation for Legacy Administration and commented:

"Within a couple of weeks of Tracey working with us, she highlighted how useful a Scheme of Delegation could be. Due to being a remote team, often proving difficult to pin key people down, the Scheme of Delegation enabled me as Legacy Manager to confidently make decisions which kept administration of estates moving, ultimately speeding up the distribution of funds.

We also formed a Legacy Case Management Group, which forms part of the Scheme of Delegation, and is called whenever there is a particularly difficult or sensitive decision to make.

Without this Scheme of Delegation, we would definitely have slowed down on a case which was potentially contentious. I would highly recommend every charity has one."

The Scheme of Delegation enabled me as Legacy Manager to confidently make decisions which kept administration of estates moving, ultimately speeding up the distribution of funds. Jordan Miller-Hughes, NHS Charities Together

Paul Browne

Need help with your scheme of delegation?

To understand more about how Legacy Link can help you create, review or update your scheme of delegation, contact Paul Browne.