By Carolyn Addleman, Director of Legacies at KKL Executor & Trustees Company
Sir Moses Montefiore, the 19th century Jewish international diplomat and philanthropist, was once asked how much he was worth. The wealthy man thought about it for a while and came up with a figure. The other replied: “That can’t be right. By my calculation you must be worth many times that amount.”
Moses Montefiore’s reply was this: “You didn’t ask me how much I own. You asked me how much I’m worth. So, I calculated the amount I have given to charity this year and that is the figure I gave you. You see,” he said, “we are worth what we are willing to share with others.”
Whatever the cause, Jewish or otherwise, Jews have always ‘punched above their weight’ when called upon to meet the challenge of charitable giving. Perhaps it is because the concept of tzedakah goes far beyond the English word ‘charity’ as it is usually translated. It is derived from the Hebrew word ‘tzedek’ meaning righteousness, justice or fairness. For Jews, giving to the poor or needy is an act of justice and righteousness, the performance of a duty.
Jews around the world have always responded disproportionately to the challenge of providing the financial support and infrastructure needed to sustain Jewish life, whether through the moral obligation on a minority to provide for its needy or the psychological bond that ties the Diaspora Jews to the State of Israel and its people.
Charity should be as much about making a personal investment in a project as making a financial one, which will lead to charities forging deeper, more enduring connections with their supporters resulting in a more fruitful and beneficial outcome for both. Charitable legacies are the best way of leaving one’s footprint on the future and making a difference to the causes that strike a chord in the hearts and minds of those who give.
Against a background of cuts in funding to the charitable sector, the Government has recently been encouraging charitable giving through more, and higher value, legacies. The Government is encouraging not only the principle of giving to charity by Will, but providing a tangible incentive to do so, through the reduced tax rate on the remainder of the estate.
Since 2011, not only will the value of the charity legacy reduce your taxable estate, but if its value exceeds the critical 10% threshold, the tax rate applied on the remainder of your estate passing to your family will reduce from 40% to 36%. So, the cost of a legacy to charity will now be borne by the Government in saved Inheritance Tax.
As Director of Legacies at Britain’s oldest Israel charity, JNF UK, I am privileged to meet members of the community who share this commitment to making their mark on the future by leaving a legacy to Israel in their Will. I am inspired by the selflessness and generosity of spirit I encounter in the course of my work. For over 70 years, JNF UK’s legacy department has provided Will writing and estate administration services to those leaving a legacy to Israel through the charity.
So, this year help not only to raise vital funds for charities at home and abroad by leaving a legacy in your Will but also to recognise just how much this form of charity can enrich the donor and the recipient, and the potential impact it can make on the community as a whole.
Carolyn Addleman is Director of Legacies at KKL Executor & Trustee Company (a subsidiary of JNF UK) and can be contacted on 0800 358 3587 or at [email protected]