We are currently administering an estate where the will contains a pecuniary legacy to an Anglican church as follows:
“£2,000 to the Vicar and Churchwardens of the Parish Church of XXXX”.
Our normal wording for gifts of this nature would be to the PCC of the church “to be used as to both capital and income for such religious purposes in the Parish as the PCC shall in its absolute discretion think fit.”
Our understanding is that, as regards the construction of beneficiaries, the will speaks from the execution of the will unless there is a contrary intention. Our concern is that the will could be construed as giving the legacy to the people who were the vicar and churchwardens of the named church at the date of the execution of the will, without any obligation for them to use this for the church itself.
Under the further terms of the will, there are other charitable legacies and legacies to other churches and the residuary estate passes to various charities, It would therefore appear to be demonstrable that that the intention of the legacy as above was for the church itself, as at the date of the testator’s death, to benefit from this pecuniary legacy.
We are therefore tentatively of the view that we could infer a contrary intention so that the gift can be construed as charitable and paid to the current vicar and churchwarden of the church.
However, I should be very grateful for views on this - thank you.
TWM Solicitors LLP