Many of us have become more ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘green’ in our life-style generally, from recycling and energy saving at home to investing in ethical funds, and some may wish to extend this approach to their Will.
For example, most professionally drawn Wills give an executor unfettered discretion to invest funds held within the estate in any company or organization, with the simple aim of maximizing return or growth but not necessarily reflecting ethical or ecological principles.
However it is possible to insert provisions within a Will directing the executors that funds needing to be held for any length of time should be invested only with companies having a recognized ethical or eco-friendly policy. Barely a decade ago ethical, or ‘green’ investing as it was often known, involved a client asking their adviser to exclude funds with holdings in the tobacco or arms industries. The adviser would then carry out research into a limited choice of funds on behalf of the investor.
Today however socially responsible investing (SRI) as it is more often referred to, involves a much more professional approach. There are also a broad range of funds available for selection and it is not necessarily the case that such an investment will lag behind its non-ethical peers in terms of offering decent returns. At Macleod & MacCallum we are happy to discuss our client’s investment objectives where there is a preference for investing funds which are sustainable and responsible investments. Some of these funds now have a decent history behind them for comparison purposes.
In addition, bequests to charitable organizations may be specifically directed towards those whose activities (and investments) are sympathetic to your own wishes and outlook. Appropriate guidance or directions to executors may be incorporated within a Will. Legacies to charities are exempt from liability to inheritance tax, and a recent change in the law means that the rate of tax on non-charitable legacies is reduced from 40% to 36% where at least 10% of an estate is given to one or more charities.
Another example is the preference that a growing number of people have for environmentally-friendly ‘woodland burials’, over the traditional burial in a cemetery or graveyard. Many of these schemes offer a permanent resting place in a protected peaceful area of natural woodland, and these arrangements are often less expensive than a traditional cemetery or graveyard, as well as providing a less formal setting.
An Ipsos Mori poll conducted in 2010 suggests that a traditional funeral may cost £2,648, as compared with a typical woodland burial which may be only one-fifth or one-third of this. Coffins or caskets made of natural bio-degradable materials, such as wicker, willow, sustainably produced wood, or even cardboard, are available and as such are considered to be a beneficial use of both natural resources and money.
Many people are attracted to these options as there is also often more scope for ‘personalising’ their funeral arrangements in advance, whether they prefer a religious or a secular funeral service. There are now many natural burial sites in Scotland, including the Highlands, and a popular option is for a sapling tree to be planted at the grave-site as a long-lasting memorial-marker.
This Briefing has been produced for information purposes only and is based on the law and other information available at the time of writing. We cannot be held responsible for any losses incurred through acting or failing to act on the basis of anything contained in this Briefing.
If you require advice on any of the matters referred to, please contact us so that we can advise you, taking account of your own particular circumstances and requirements.