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Gifts in Wills

Three crew members on board Porthcawl Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Rose of the Shires B-832. Shot looking forward from the stern, rough seas and spray.

The work of our volunteer crews relies entirely upon the generosity of people like you. Six out of ten lifeboat launches are only possible because of people remembering the RNLI in their Wills.

After providing for your loved ones, please consider leaving a proportion of what's left to the RNLI.

Any size or kind of gift, large or small, pays for the equipment and training our volunteers need to stay safe and save more lives - today and into the future.

Read how it works on the tabs below. And if you have any queries about legacy giving, please contact RNLI Legacy Administrator Nicky Comber:

  • Call from UK - Tel: 01202 663204 
  • Call from RoI - Tel: 01 895 1890

Since its foundation in 1824, the RNLI has saved more than 140,000 lives.

Simon Haston is one of those 140,000. He slipped into the sea while out fishing on 6 June 2011 off the east coast of Scotland, and got washed into a fast-flooding cave. Unable to fight his way out through pounding swells, Simon was pulled from the cave with minutes to spare by St Abbs lifeboat crew.

Simon says: 'I don't think I had a whole lot longer. If the RNLI had not been there, I would have died that day. I owe them my life.'

Your legacy is our lifeline.

It's more than a gift in your Will. It will be the lifeboat that launches at 2am in sub-zero temperatures. It will be the training that guides the crew through 10m waves and gale-force winds. It will save lives at sea.

After taking care of your loved ones, please think about leaving a gift to the RNLI in your Will and helping save lives at sea in the future.

All gifts in Wills are important, regardless of size. For example, it costs just under £1,300 to kit out a lifeboat crew member with protective gear, so they can face severe weather conditions and rescue those in need.

The contents of your Will are private and we would never directly ask you to share your intentions. However, to ensure we face the future with confidence, it would be helpful if you could tell us whether you are thinking about leaving a gift to us in your Will. This also gives us an opportunity to thank you and invite you to see how your gift could be used to save lives.

A gift in a Will costs nothing now, but could be the most important gift you ever make.

The work of our lifeboat crews - along with the provision of the best possible boats, equipment and training to ensure their safety - relies entirely upon the generosity of kind supporters like you.

If you have already made a Will

In most cases you can make a simple addition to your existing Will with a codicil. This supplement overwrites existing instructions without the need to revoke or rewrite the whole document. We have provided a draft codicil to simplify the process. We always recommend that you seek the advice of a solicitor and do not write on, amend or attach any form to your current Will yourself, as your Will could become invalid.

Different ways of giving

There are two main ways of leaving a gift:

  • Residuary gift: made from the percentage of your estate that remains after expenses and other gifts have been paid. The advantage of this type of gift is that it won't be affected by inflation.
  • Pecuniary gift: also known as a specific gift. A donation of a fixed amount. 

Some people prefer to leave specific items to charity, for example property, stocks and shares, artwork or items of jewellery. A solicitor will be able to explain in more detail how the different types of gifts work and discuss the most appropriate option for you.

If you would like to know more, we can:

  • explain how a gift in a Will can help the RNLI continue to save lives into the future
  • arrange for you to visit a station and see the volunteer crew in action
  • describe the different ways you can leave a gift in a Will and explain the benefits
  • explain how a gift to the RNLI could help reduce the level of inheritance tax on your estate
  • help you to find a solicitor and provide you with a pack containing helpful information about how to make or update your Will, as well as how to leave a gift to the RNLI.

We promise you:

  • we’ll answer any questions honestly and quickly
  • we won’t put you under pressure - this is a big decision so please decide in your own time
  • your loved ones come first - we respect that and won’t try to change it
  • we’ll use your special gift wisely and effectively
  • you don’t have to tell us your decision - we respect your right to privacy
  • you can come and see our service first hand - just let us know
  • if you want your gift to be spent in an area that’s special to you, we’ll arrange it.

If you have not already made a Will

We always recommend consulting a solicitor. There will be a fee but you will receive sound professional advice and can be sure that your wishes are honoured.

Need more help?

Our Legacy Enquiries Administrator, Nicky Comber, will do her best to help you with any questions you may have. Please call her on 01202 663204 or e-mail her here.

Isn't this a private matter?

Absolutely. It’s entirely up to you if you wish to share the contents of your Will during your lifetime. We will never ask you outright to tell us your wishes, but if you would like to share your intentions we’d love to hear from you, as this knowledge helps us to plan more efficiently for the future. It will also give us the opportunity to thank you, and invite you to see how your gift could be used.

I'm not wealthy, can I afford to leave a gift in my Will?

​Every gift helps. It’s not always possible to give as much as you would like to a charity during your lifetime, and we all have to think carefully about paying for later life. After you have provided for those you care for, leaving a proportion of the remainder of your estate is a great way of making a difference to a cause you care about. Plus, by leaving a proportion of your estate, you can be sure that whatever happens to the economy, the generous intentions behind your gift will not be affected.

Will my money be put to good use?

Certainly. It will help the RNLI continue to save lives at sea. Every day our volunteer crews risk their lives, and we need to ensure that they have the equipment and training necessary to return home safely. If you leave us a gift in your Will, it’s crucial that you can trust us to use it responsibly and respectfully. We promise to use every penny to save lives at sea safely, effectively and as cost-efficiently as possible.

Wouldn't it be better to help now rather than later?

We are incredibly thankful to everyone who chooses to support our work, whenever and however they choose to do so. There will always be a need for the services we provide, both around the coastline and on inland waterways. Gifts in Wills ensure that we will be able to continue saving lives into the future.

How will my loved ones feel about it?

​We understand that your loved ones come first. That's why we always encourage anyone considering leaving a gift to leave a small percentage of whatever's left - after those close to them have been taken care of.

A small percentage gift will ensure that, even if your circumstances change, your loved ones will not be affected by a gift you leave to the RNLI. And a percentage gift will have the biggest impact for our volunteer crews, because it retains its value better than a specified sum of money.

We usually find that the families and friends of those who are kind enough to leave us a gift are immensely proud of the gift - and the generosity of spirit that it reflects.

Can I choose how my gift is spent?

​We welcome all gifts we receive. However, gifts that are made unconditionally are of particular value as they allow us to direct funds to the areas of greatest need, which change on a continual basis.

Of course, we do understand that a particular region or service may have a special significance for you, and if this is the case we are very happy to discuss the different options available. If possible, we would always recommend that such preferences be expressed as wish, rather than as a condition. This is because we can't foresee now how our services might be different in 10, 20 or 50 years' time, and an expression of wish in your Will gives us the flexibility to transfer your gift to a similar area of work, at the discretion of your executors, if it is no longer possible to fund the area or project you have requested.

If you would like to discuss your gift being spent on a certain area of our work, please get in touch with RNLI Legacy Administrator Nicky Comber by email, or by phoning 01202 663204.

I want to leave a gift to the RNLI. Do I need a solicitor?

If you have not already made a Will, you may need to see a solicitor. There will be a fee but you will receive sound professional advice and can be sure that your wishes are honoured.

If you have an existing Will, in most cases you can make a simple addition or amendment with a codicil. This supplement overwrites existing instructions without the need to revoke or rewrite the whole document. We have provided a draft codicil to simplify the process. We always recommend that you seek the advice of a solicitor and do not write on, amend or attach any form to your current Will yourself, as your Will could become invalid.

What if I need to change my Will again?

We appreciate that your circumstances could change at any time which could have implications for your Will. If you ever need advice about leaving a gift in your Will we will do our very best to help you but we will never put pressure on you to share the contents of your Will.

I’m an executor of a Will, what do I need to do next?

Our Legacy Department will do their best to help you with any questions you may have to do with being an executor. Please use our contact form or call Ros Barter on 01202 663004.

Thank you to all of our thoughtful supporters who have chosen to remember the RNLI with a gift in their Will.

The RNLI will always be needed to save lives at sea. And your legacy could be our lifeline.

Tell your story

Why have you chosen to include the RNLI in your Will? Or, if you know someone else who has done so, would you like to share your memories of them and their reasons for giving?

Our Legacy Administrator Nicky Comber would love to hear from you. Call Nicky on 01202 663204 or email your story to Nicky_Comber@RNLI.org.uk

You might also be interested in our Forever by the Sea tribute funds, another way of remembering someone special while also supporting our brave lifeboat volunteers.

Avis Cadiot's story (as told by her son Charles):

'My mother supported a wide range of charities in a modest way during her lifetime, but felt her first priority was to ensure appropriate provision for her own care in old age. Though after years of careful saving, at times it was hard to persuade her that old age had arrived and it was time to spend some money on herself.

'By bequeathing half of her estate to charity, her Will reflected her desire to support many of her favourite causes once she no longer had any need for her savings. I am sure she would have been pleased to know that she was able to support the work of the RNLI.

'Not only did the Institution's volunteers come to the aid of my father and his crew of three as his fishing boat sank in 1956 (one of my earliest memories), but last Summer, less than 6 months after my mother's death, a lifeboat came to the aid of my son, who had been seriously injured on a yacht.

'It goes without saying that you can be assured of the continued support of my family for the work you do.'

​The RNLI Legacy Team can help you with the often difficult job of managing a Will.

Read on to see how we can support you if you're dealing with a Will that contains a gift to the RNLI.

We're here to help, whether you're a friend or family member or a professional executor.

Administering an estate with a gift to the RNLI

If you are administering an estate that includes a gift to the RNLI, please do send us a copy of the Will as soon as possible. Knowing we have received a gift will help us plan lifesaving coverage around the UK and Ireland.

If you’re a friend or family member acting as an executor, you can find a local solicitor through the Law Society or contact RNLI Legacy Administrator Nicky Comber

Sending a legacy to the RNLI

If you need to send us a legacy, please contact our Legacy Team. They will be happy to help you process the legacy and give you a receipt for your paperwork.

If the RNLI is an executor or a trustee

If we’re named executor of a Will, please let us know as soon as possible and send us the original Will so we can protect and process the estate. If we’re trustee of a trust fund, we will need to be involved in the decision-making process. Our Legacy Team can help you manage this.

More ways we can help

If you have any more questions about a Will involving the RNLI, our Legacy Team is here to help. These could include queries about property and land sales, investments and shares, or anything else you're unsure of.