The Society welcomes the recent Budget initiative reforming inheritance tax laws, intended to encourage everyone to leave a charitable legacy when they die.  In a move to make leaving 10% or more of your estate to charity the norm, the Government will reduce the inheritance tax levied on the estates of those who do from 40% to 36% from April 2012.


From its earliest days, bequests from Fellows and friends have built the Royal Society’s endowment. Thanks to the generosity of its benefactors, the Society has been able to maintain its independence and has the flexibility to respond to emerging scientific issues.

Many of our core activities such as public lectures, discussion meetings, independent policy advice, prizes and research grants would not be possible without this long-term support. Your bequest to the Royal Society will serve the cause of science for the coming centuries. 

Historically, legacies have played a vitally important role in helping the Society to advance the cause of science and meet the needs of the scientific community. The names of past Fellows such as Copley, Baker and Davy are remembered in the many premier medals, lectures and fellowships which have originated from such gifts.

No matter the size, each gift is deeply appreciated and makes a valuable contribution to enhancing the capacity of the Society, as an independent academy, to maintain its essential work in the future.

Suggested wording

We recommend that you draft your Will in consultation with a qualified solicitor. The following wording is only a guide. Because the Royal Society is a registered charity, bequests – be they residuary, pecuniary or specific – will not be subject to inheritance tax in the UK.

For Pecuniary or Specific Legacies

I GIVE a pecuniary / specific legacy free of all tax of £X to THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LONDON FOR IMPROVING NATURAL KNOWLEDGE of 6 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG (Registered Charity Number 207043) and I express the wish but without imposing any binding trust or obligation that this legacy be used in / applied towards…

For Residuary Legacies

I GIVE the whole (or a X% share) of my Residuary Estate to THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LONDON FOR IMPROVING NATURAL KNOWLEDGE of 6 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG (Registered Charity Number 207043) absolutely and I express the wish but without imposing any binding trust or obligation that this be used in / applied towards…

Reversionary legacies should be drafted in consultation with a solicitor.

Types of legacies

When considering a legacy gift in the UK, there are four main types of bequest, some of which may be more appropriate to your financial or personal circumstances.

  • Residuary: This is a gift of the whole or a percentage of the estate following the distribution of specific gifts and payment of any debts and expenses.
  • Pecuniary: This is a financial gift of money or shares.
  • Specific: This is a gift of an item, such as a portrait or historical document. When considering specific bequest, it is advisable to speak to the Society to make sure that the Society will be a suitable home for the object.
  • Reversionary: This is a gift of an asset, such as a house or fund that can be enjoyed by a chosen beneficiary during his or her lifetime before reverting to the Society.

Inheritance Tax

Inheritance Tax is currently charged at 40% if your estate is over a certain value. The threshold for Inheritance Tax can change so you’ll need to keep up-to-date with these changes to prevent any beneficiaries paying more Inheritance Tax than necessary. In the terms of a Will, there are a number of gifts which can help to minimise the Inheritance Tax liability on your estate. These include gifts between spouses and gifts to charities. Information on Inheritance Tax can be found on the HMRC website.

From April 2012, the government introduced a change to Inheritance Tax legislation meaning in some situations, anyone leaving 10% or more of their taxable estate to charity will qualify for a reduced rate of Inheritance Tax. If you think that your estate is going to be subject to Inheritance Tax please discuss this with your solicitor.

Tell us about your gift

If you decide to make a legacy to the Royal Society or if you have already remembered us in your Will, please indicate your present intentions by completing this form (PDF)
and returning it to us.

  • Overseas donors: You may want to make a tax-efficient bequest from overseas (incl Hong Kong and the United States). 
  • Restricted endowments: Please contact us if you have a specific purpose in mind for your gift to ensure that its use meets your wishes whilst supporting the aims of the Society.

Thank you

All gifts to the Royal Society are valued and are important to the future of our work.

By making a donation you will be joining a distinguished group of Fellows and friends in supporting the future of science for the coming generations.

Registered Charity No 207043

Contact us

Tel.: +44 (0) 20 7451 2211

Write to: The Development Office, The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG