Leave a legacy

Legacy gifts have played, and continue to play, an important role in the history of Downe House. These are deeply personal donations and have provided bursaries, restored historic buildings, and improved the school site. A gift to Downe House in your will plays a significant role in shaping our school and to recognise your generosity, you’ll be invited to join the Palmer Society.  

Whether you have decided to leave a gift in your will or would like more information about legacy giving, we would love to hear from you. Please do get in touch with Ms Hannah Litvack (Development Director) by email at litvackh@downehouse.net or call 01635 917732.  

How do I leave a legacy gift to Downe House? 

There are several ways that you can include a gift to Downe House in your will. Your legacy may be in the form of money or financial assets, such as shares or property. Many people choose to give a residual gift because it maintains its value with inflation.  

We understand that family and loved ones come first but leaving a gift in your will to a charity may reduce the inheritance tax due on your estate with little impact to your family. The Downe House Foundation is a registered charity, therefore legacy gifts are exempt from Inheritance Tax.  

How can making a bequest to charity reduce your inheritance tax?  

Under current law, if your estate is worth more than £325,000, your beneficiaries will have to pay 40% of the part of it that’s over the threshold to HMRC. By leaving at least 10% of the ‘net value’ of your estate to charity, you can cut the Inheritance Tax (IHT) rate of your estate from 40% to 36%.  

Please speak to your solicitor who will be able to provide you with advice specific to your circumstances.  

What is the Palmer Society? 

The Palmer Society is named after Elizabeth Palmer, a great benefactor of the School who was closely associated with it all her life. She joined the School as a pupil in 1920, and then returned firstly as a member of the office staff and later as Miss Medley’s first Vice-Principal. Following her retirement, Elizabeth continued to open her doors at Fencewood House to members of staff both for regular, convivial dinners and also for staff accommodation. On her death in 1998 she left the house to the School. It is fitting that our legacy society, honouring those whose thoughtful and forward-thinking gifts play an integral part in the School’s future, should be named in her memory.  

Anyone who has pledged a legacy gift to Downe House is welcome to join the Palmer Society. Every year, members are invited to special events at the College.  

To become a member, please let us know that you have left a gift in your will. You are also very welcome to reach out without committal, to find out more about how your gift, no matter the size, can really make a positive difference to the future of the School. We look forward to welcoming you as a member of the Palmer Society and joining us at the next event.  

To which area should I leave my gift? 

Most people leave their legacy gifts for ‘the general charitable purposes’ of the School. This means that the donation can be used for the areas of greatest need.  

You can also leave a gift for a specific purpose or for a particular fundraising priority or fund. If you would like to leave a specific gift, please let us know so that we can ensure that we are able to accommodate your wishes.  

What details do I need to include in a will? 

The important information that you will need when writing your will is:  

Charity Name: Downe House Foundation  

Charity Number: Registered Charity 1159259 

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Hannah Litvack (Director of Development) by email.

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