Do those leaving a legacy leave it for their congregation or the World Wide Work?
I'm trawling through the UK charity listings for congregations, and of those who added additional financial information, I am seeing a lot of congregations receive legacies. In the years 2015 and 2016, a lot of money left to the congregation was donated to the World Wide Work/IBSA.
I realize the letter from 2015 was read out asking congregations to donate excess reserves to the Branch Office but is this what the testator really wanted?
Consider Gloucster Kingsholme congregation. They received a legacy (amount not stated) but there filing for 2016 contains the following statement:
There is also a separate Kingdom Hall Building Fund, to which we have contributed together with
the Hempsted, Tredworth and Tuffley Congregations. The balance of this fund as at 31st March 2016
was £239,583.27. This money would normally be transferred to the Society for kingdom hall and
assembly hall construction, but due to the specific wording in the terms of the legacy, it can only be used for the building of a second kingdom hall in Gloucester.
For Great Yarmouth, the congregation received a legacy of £105,105 in 2015 and donated 91,659 of that to the Branch office in 2015.
Over the years as accounts servant and secretary I remember a few legacies left to the congregation. Nothing huge but in the two to ten thousand bracket.
One for about £1500 was worded for the "benefit of the poor in the congregation" and it was up to the trustees (elders) to interpret.
It sat "ringfenced" for about five years and I know we used a couple of hundred to pay for "sister gotmorekids" to get to a couple of conventions but eventually we decided that no one in the congregation was really poor (as we have benefits and NHS over here and everyone seemed to be able to afford food, heating, light and a TV!) and so it went on some sound equipment which we felt benefitted the poor along with the rest of the congo.!
I have heard of larger legacies and elders arguing whether it should get sent to the WWW or not. It usually ended up in the GB's coffers one way or another.
About a year or so ago I remember a sister died and left her house to the congregation for the benefit of the pioneers. The idea was that pioneers in the congregation could live there rent free. The WT Society would hear none of it and the house was sold (~£100,000) and the money went to HQ.
Edit - Just looked at this congregation on the CC website and there is no mention of the sale!!
Sold July 2016 so maybe on next year's accounts. (£90,000 )
That's really interesting St George - and sad too.
When estates are gifted to individuals and/or organizations with specific conditions attached concerning how the gift is to be used, the estate executor does not have the power to monitor whether those conditions have been or can be met. If executors did have such powers, imagine the convoluted legal wrangles and disputes.
However, wills can specify the timing of the gift (when a beneficiary reaches a specified age).
Strictly speaking, everyone who has a will drawn up is usually informed - or should be - that conditional bequests are not legally enforceable.
While there can be certain conditions before the beneficiary receives a gift, once that gift is transferred to the beneficiary, it is no longer under the control of the testator, their will or their executor. Once given to a beneficiary, the gift then belongs to the beneficiary who can do with it as they wish. If the gift is to be used in a particular way specified by the testator, that may be a moral issue for the beneficiary, not necessarily a legal one.
However, wills can specify the timing of the gift (when a beneficiary reaches a specified age). - Steve
In this country, that would be called a Trust. The gift would remain within a trust created by the testator or their will, and under the control of a Trustee whose job is to administer the trust as specified by the testator.
I also remember a case here in the UK where a brother left a lot of money to the WT Society in his will. However he was disfellowshipped just prior to his death and never changed his will. Did the WT Society accept this money from a D/Fed person? Absolutely they did!
However the saga didn't end there. The brother had a disabled (autistic) nephew who was not mentioned in the will so an application was made to the WT Society that they may help this young man. There was no legal obligation of course but the relatives thought they would be kind to him. Needless to say they wouldn't give him a penny!
WT's No 1 priority - MONEY!