Leave a legacy

Make a better democracy your legacy for the future.

The Electoral Reform Society has been campaigning since 1884 for a better democracy in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It’s with the generous support of donations from our members and supporters that we can continue to champion the rights of voters and build on our position as the UK’s leading voice for democratic reform.

The most wonderful gift you could ever make to support democracy won’t cost you a penny in your lifetime.

Remembering the ERS in your will can help ensure that our vital campaigning work continues for years to come.

Here are some useful tips on leaving a lasting legacy with a gift to the ERS

How to include a gift in your will

Whether you have a will already, or you’re planning to write your first will, it really isn’t hard to do. It’s best to visit a solicitor, to make sure your wishes for your family and any charities can’t be misunderstood later on.

Use a Solicitor

You may have a family solicitor you already use. If not, ask a relative or friend to recommend one.

If you are making your will with your partner, you can make a ‘mirror’ (identical) will if they are broadly the same.

Before you meet with the solicitor for will-making advice, it is a good idea to think about:

  • the main things you own – like a house, shares, endowments, savings or life insurance policies – and roughly what they are worth
  • who your executor(s) will be
  • what kinds of gifts you want to leave the people and charities you care about – pecuniary (money) or residuary (whatever is left over) legacies.


The executors of your will are the people who administer it when you are gone. They tell the beneficiaries about their gifts, and settle any debts you owe. They also deal with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the UK if necessary.

You need to be able to trust them, and they need to be prepared to take on this responsibility.

You can name a family member (including someone benefiting from your will) or a friend.

Alternatively, you can use a professional like an accountant or solicitor (who will normally require payment from your estate). Or, if you prefer, a combination of relatives, friends and professionals.

Different types of gifts

Residuary gifts are made from whatever is left over once gifts of money and specific items have been distributed. You can give the whole of the residue to a person or an organisation like the ERS, or a portion of it.

Pecuniary gifts are specified sums of money. If you would like a gift of money to keep its value over the years, it is a sensible idea to ask your solicitor to index-link it.

Specific gifts are things, such as a painting, a house or a ring.

Legacy wording

Here is what your solicitor needs to write a residuary gift into your will to the ERS:

Subject to the payment of my debts, funeral and testamentary expenses, I give the whole/____% of my estate not otherwise disposed of by this my Will to the Electoral Reform Society Ltd (Company number 958404) of 3rd Floor, News Building, 3 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SG for the general purposes of the ERS and I declare that the receipt of its Treasurer or other proper officer shall be a full and sufficient discharge.

The following wording is for a pecuniary gift to the ERS:

‘I give to the Electoral Reform Society of 3rd Floor, News Building, 3 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SG, the sum of £_____ for the general purposes of the ERS and I declare that the receipt of its Treasurer or other proper officer shall be a full and sufficient discharge.

Common questions

Do I have to be wealthy to leave a gift in my Will?

Not at all. Whatever you can afford, we will turn it into something important and tangible.

Including a gift to the ERS in your will doesn’t affect how much money you have to provide for old age. Your estate is calculated based on whatever is left after you die. And if you arrange your gift to the ERS as a residuary gift, it will only be paid out after all the other gifts you leave to your family or friends have been made.

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

Both are great. Many people who leave a legacy to the ERS also support our work during their lifetime through  giving donations. Others use their wills to support the Society for the first time.

What will my family think?

Your will is a reflection of what matters to you, and for most people that is their family and friends. The ERS is all about building a better democracy, and so of course we believe you should look to protect the future of the people you care about with your will.

Putting a gift in your will to the ERS doesn’t stop you doing that, especially if the gift is from whatever is left over after all your gifts to family have been made.

We find that most families are proud of the gifts their loved ones leave to the ERS.

Can I add a gift to an existing will?

Usually, yes.  But you should use a solicitor to do this, to make sure it fits smoothly with the rest of the gifts in your Will. Under no circumstances should you write on an existing Will itself, and you should keep any codicil you make with your existing will but not physically attached to it.

Do I need to tell the ERS about a gift I’m leaving?

You don’t need to, but if you would like to tell us that would be wonderful. We would love to say thank you, and to keep you informed and inspired by our work.

What if I change my mind about a gift to the ERS?

Circumstances change; we understand that. If you would like to change your mind you can do so.

Jargon buster

Beneficiary: Any person or organisation that receives a gift in your will.

Bequest/legacy: A gift in your will.

Codicil: An addition or change to an existing will.

Estate: The total sum of all your possessions, property and money (including life insurance policies and shares).

Executor/executrix: The man or woman you ask to administer your will when you are gone and make sure your wishes are carried out.

Inheritance tax: The tax due on your estate if it exceeds a certain threshold. It includes the market value of your house when you die.

Intestate: The word used to describe someone who has died without a will.

Pecuniary bequest: A gift of a specific sum of money in your will.

Probate: This is the legal administrative process of settling your estate after your death. It involves your executors (see above) applying for the legal right to deal with your estate, so that they can settle any outstanding financial obligations, and then distribute your money, property and possessions according to your wishes.

Residuary bequest: A gift of whatever is left over once all other gifts have been made from your estate. You can leave all of the residue or divide it up into portions.

Specific bequest: A gift of a thing, like a house, an antique or a necklace.

For any further information on leaving a legacy to the ERS or if you have any questions, please contact Stuart Thomas, Operations and Membership Officer on 0203 743 6066 or email ers@electoral-reform.org.uk