Charity Set Up and Legacy Management

The priority for charities is raising funds and using those funds to enhance the world in which we live.

Achieving this priority requires a deep understanding of charity law, structures and obligations, there are liability issues, tax matters, operational functions, contracts and investments to also consider. Most charities have to register with the Charity Commission. The Commission’s powers stretch far, including enforcement action, monitoring charities and publishing information on charities.

All factors that, without the right legal support, can make achieving your priority much, much harder.

We provide the full spectrum of legal advice for charities, across many causes, whether philanthropic or for specific purposes such as illness, disabilities, wildlife, housing, art galleries and museums and religious institutions.

We advise on practical considerations, such as legal status and registration, to operational matters, like employment law, IP, governance, relations with donors and tax matters.

We can also help if you face a crisis, like funds being misappropriated, investigations or disputes, as well as legacy issues.

Many individuals across the firm have also made personal commitments to the charity sector, often acting as trustees for charities. This gives the team an added edge with experience in the realities of how charitable entities actually function.

Our services include:

  • Strong understanding of charity law and practice, the formation and winding up of charities, mergers, good governance, the use of subsidiary trading companies
  • Tax issues for charities - particularly VAT and trading issues
  • Familiarity with cultural organisations, fundraising, intellectual property issues
  • Internal disputes among trustees, or with non-trustee staff
  • Complex administrative law issues
  • Reputation management
  • Legacy income management, and commitments to donors and testators
  • Employment issues.

Recent experience

  • The registration of heritage buildings as charities, particularly linked with redevelopment projects
  • Conflict of interest allegations, for example in a case where a disaffected ex-employee alleged mismanagement
  • The formation of new philanthropic and operational charities
  • A housing charity which wanted to cease operations and transfer its activities and funds to a national charity
  • A charity which wanted to establish a permanent lecture series and annual grant under the auspices of another charity
  • Changing the terms of a literary prize fund
  • Incorporating unincorporated charities and redrafting their constitutions
  • Registering a national craft association as a charity and drafting a new constitution for it
  • Dealing with allegations that charity trustees had taken personal benefits from their charity
  • Countering press allegations that a charity had used improper means of fundraising
  • Serious allegations by the executors of an estate that charitable funds left by a deceased testator had been misapplied by the charity
  • The restructuring of a local charity where there was doubt about the identity of its trustees and about the procedures for electing the management board
  • Merger of charities with overlapping fields of operation
  • Getting a charity restored to the register after the Charity Commission had removed it.

Our charity clients include:

  • British-Slovene Society
  • Convent of our Lady of Sion
  • Criterion Theatre
  • East African Wild Life Society
  • FairBanking Foundation
  • Films without Borders
  • International Society of Chemotherapy
  • Old Vic Theatre Trust
  • Sir John Cass’ Foundation
  • Solti Foundation
  • The Ralph and Meriel Richardson Foundation.

Charity Legacy Management

We also advise on all aspects of charity legacy administration to help your charity maximise its income and minimise problems and delays.

We understand that legacies are a vitally important source of income for charities, and that a key objective is to secure the maximum value from each case. Collecting this income can be complex and challenging.

Our advice doesn't end with the law. We focus on practical, commercial solutions, and are very sensitive to the need to protect a charity's reputation – negative press coverage can be highly damaging for charities' long-term relationships with its donors.

Our services include:

  • Acting on your charity's behalf in high value and complex administrations or estate disputes
  • Assisting with routine legacy administration, including advice on tax and procedural issues
  • Dealing with ad hoc queries which arise in unusual cases.

Our Legacy Management Group was established to support those people who are professionally involved in the administration of estates which have charities as beneficiaries. The group complements our Contentious Trust and Estate Team, which regularly acts on behalf of charity clients in disputed matters.

In addition to being qualified solicitors, various members of our Legacy Management and Contentious Trust and Estate teams are qualified mediators, members of STEP and ACTAPS and Chartered Tax Advisers. We also have contacts with those who provide independent mediator services.


Get in touch

Robert Craig

Robert Craig : Consultant

Alan Banes

Alan Banes : Consultant