You may not have heard of Cyril Smith – a self-made man that started out by sweeping the floors of his dad’s small joinery factory in the early 1900’s. But his name and legacy is well known to the numerous organisations he has gifted bequests to and who continue to benefit from his generosity, today.

Bequests are a way to support the people and causes you care about after you’re gone and regardless of how big or small, your bequest will be a welcome gift to those who receive it. Below we unpick what a bequest is, what to think about when considering gifting one in your will, and we hear more of the enduring legacy that continues to give so much back to the Canterbury community.

What is a bequest?

A bequest is the giving of assets or a sum of money to individuals or organisations through your will. They can take on many forms but are often considered as the following:

  • Residuary bequest – this is the gift of whatever is left in a will after all other gifts have been distributed.
  • Specific bequest – just as it sounds; a specific bequest is defined as something distinguishable you leave in your will.
  • Whole estate – a generous gifting of an entire estate.

You might choose to gift assets such as stocks, property, and jewelry or provide money to family members, friends, community groups or charities. For charitable or not for profit organisations, bequests can be an important source of funding and when leaving one to someone closest to you, it can be an enduring gift that becomes part of your legacy.

Leaving as little as 1% of your estate can make a tremendous difference without you having to compromise on making sure those closest to you receive something significant as well.

If I want to leave one, how do I go about choosing the recipient?

You might leave a gift in your will for someone close to you and/or you might want to support a group or cause that you care deeply for. With every charitable organization relying on the support of generous people, it can be difficult to choose where you want your bequest to go. Consider asking yourself the following questions:

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

Whoever you decide to leave your bequest to, it’s a good idea to consider whether you want yours to be short or long term. Think about the cause or organization and research what they need. It’s also wise to discuss anything with your family, as bequests can be challenged and it’s a nice idea for them to be informed on your decisions as part of your wishes.

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 could also consider The Gift Trust where your bequest will be allocated to those who need it most. Check out how they work here.

How the legacy of Cyril Smith continues to live on in Canterbury

Blind Low Vision NZ received a very generous gift from Cyril Smith’s estate in 2015 and it helped fund guide dog pups to complete their training.  Those guide dogs are now out in the community, including a very special guide dog named after Cyril by his wife.

While Cyril’s wealth allowed him to gift large sums to many organisations and have a profound effect on many community groups, bequests can come in all shapes and sizes from people from all walks of life. Whatever you might choose to leave behind, will undoubtedly make a positive difference to those at the receiving end. At Blind Low Vision NZ, 1 in 3 services are made possible every year from bequests.

See how you can leave a gift to Blind Low Vision NZ, so they can continue to offer the services and support people need to live independently and achieve their life goals.

To leave a lasting gift or legacy, takes careful consideration to make sure you’re leaving your mark where you want it to be. Leaving a bequest isn’t just for the rich, it’s for anyone who wants to make a tangible difference in someone’s life or for an organization, after they’re gone. Some NZ organisations have already set up the necessary bequest intention documentation, such as our partners at Paralympics NZ or Cancer Society Wellington.

If you have a will with us already, you might want to update it to include a bequest. Please call us on 0800 371 471 or get your will done online by clicking the button below:

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