When I was in my late 20s, I managed to buy my small London flat. It was the late 90s and it was still possible to buy a flat on a charity worker's salary. I felt for the first time that I might have something of value to pass on to others – not only did I have the flat, but I also had a great collection of books, a musical instrument and one beautiful limited edition print I had bought at an art fair.
I knew that I didn't want everything to automatically go to my parents just because I hadn't taken the time to consider the issue. So, with the help of a solicitor I carefully drafted a will. I decided that my brother would get 50% of my estate and the other 50% would go to a women's charity that was dear to my heart. I gifted my books to the Oxfam bookshop, the limited edition print to a friend who would appreciate it and my flute to another amateur musician friend.
Then, in my mid 30s when I had my son and moved in with my partner, I revised my will again. This time, feeling slightly overwhelmed by the responsibilities of new parenthood, I left everything to my partner and then, in case of his death everything to my son.
Now, over eighteen years later, my son is an adult. And, at this latest milestone, I'm going to revise my will yet again so that while he can still be provided for, I can leave a gift for the Society of Friends.
Having the conversation
In many ways, I'm fortunate that my very practical and down-to-earth Quaker mother has always believed in talking about death and the issue of legacy giving. Even going so far as to pay for her own gravestone and sort out exactly who wants and will get which family portrait and heirloom. So this has never been an awkward subject for me and I have explored this in a previous post.
Although this is a really important conversation to have, many of us still avoid it. 54% of adults in the UK do not have a will. Taking the time to write or update our will to include a gift for Quaker work, for charities like Christian Aid and for the ones we care for, can have a big impact. As Graham Torr says in this video, “I've gained so much from the Society of Friends, it's important to me that it sustains and a legacy is one of the ways in which I can demonstrate that."
Join Faith Will
In September, Quaker meetings and other churches will be using the Faith Will campaign and resources to encourage people of faith to remember their own faith, and Christian Aid, in their will. By signing up to the Faith Will campaign, you will be able to access a number of resources including a Quaker specific resource pack with lots of activities and reflections. These can help you design a meeting for learning, or share something related to the power of legacy giving in an afterword or give some prepared ministry.
I'll be delivering a short workshop after meeting for worship at my local meeting on the last Sunday of the month. Will you join me?