Study finds Charities Forgotten in Aussie Wills
20 April 2012 at 1:08 pm
A new study has found that most Australians leave their estate to family, with only a small percentage making a charitable bequest.
Researchers at Swinburne University in Melbourne studied how Australians bequeath their estates, giving particular attention to charitable giving.
“Despite the fact that most of us give regularly to charity throughout our lives, when it comes to our wills, we give it all to family,” the researchers said.
The study is said to provide the most detailed data on charitable bequests to-date.
Researchers says the study examined a random sample of Victorian probate records in 2006 and found about one in twenty people who leave a will, leave a charitable bequest.
“Most people tend to think that as Australians we are generous and respond well to people in times of flood, fire and other disasters, but only a small minority do so in their wills,” researcher Christopher Baker from Swinburne’s Faculty of Business and Enterprise said.
“When it comes to our estates, we make provision first for our families and then for charities.”
Baker said an estimated 87 per cent of the adult population in Australia make gifts to charity each year, but only 5.4 per cent of Victorian estates made a post mortem charitable bequest in 2006.
“The records show that Australians overwhelmingly leave their estates to immediate family members – first spouses, then children,” Baker said.
“They also show that there is a significant discrepancy between what people do with their estates and intestacy laws that determine how estates are distributed in the absence of a will.”
The study also found that two thirds of charitable bequests are left by people who do not have surviving children.
The researchers say that unlike Americans, wealthier Australians leave a smaller proportion of their estates to charity than their less wealthy counterparts.
The study was conducted by Research Fellow in Dr Christopher Baker and Swinburne Pro Vice-Chancellor Research Quality Professor Michael Gilding.
The results have been published in the Australian Journal of Social Issues.
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