Thursfields Solicitors has urged charities to consider how they can benefit from memorial funds – without attracting negative attention.

The advice comes after a memorial fund was set up in tribute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the Thai billionaire businessman and owner of Premier League football club Leicester City, who died in a helicopter crash at the King Power Stadium last year.

Katherine Ellis, a Senior Associate Solicitor in Thursfields’ Birmingham office, said: “This new memorial fund raises interesting issues about the different ways that charities can benefit following someone’s death.

It shows how benefits are not just limited to a pecuniary or residuary legacy in a Will, but also from funds that form discretionary trusts and memorial funds.

But when charities learn that they may be eligible to receive money from such projects, they often feel deterred due to a risk of being perceived negatively, particularly when family and friends of the deceased are overseeing the funds.

However, gifts like this can make a huge difference to a charity’s income and it’s therefore important to think about a variety of issues including any wishes expressed about the types of charitable work which should benefit.”

Katherine previously worked for a large national charity in London and now focuses on advising charities on their legal obligations as part of the broader legacy administration process, including liaising with the Charity Commission.

She added: “Thursfields has charity expertise and can offer a range of guidance and support in these areas which can be hugely beneficial for charities.”

Jenny Smith, Head of Thursfields’ Charities and Communities Sector based at the company’s Halesowen office, agreed and said: “The Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation’s Gift of a Wish fund aims to prioritise projects in the East Midlands and Leicestershire areas.

It is important to review any information provided by the fund regarding both the types of charitable objectives they want to help and how best to present the applicant charity’s case for receiving benefit from the trust or fund.”

Jenny specialises in charity law and has acted for various types of charity for over 16 years. She said where a charity is established in memory of someone, there is likely to be an initial fund but there will be scope to add further funds.

Jenny added: “Alternatively, during their own lifetime, someone may wish to establish a charity, making small tax-efficient donations during their lifetime and managing the trust themselves alongside those they wish to carry on the work after their death.

In those cases, the charity can then be a named beneficiary in the will.

These are examples of where using a company like Thursfields which has relevant in-house expertise can help individuals and their families fulfil their charitable aims.,

To discuss charitable trusts and memorial funds, contact Katherine Ellis at kellis@thursfields.co.uk and 0121 647 5419. Or if you are interested in establishing or reviewing the governance provisions of a charity, contact Jenny Smith at JSmith@thursfields.co.uk and 01905 730450.

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