Skip to main content

Fundraising

Your Legacy, Exeter’s Future: Leave a gift in your Will

Gifts in Wills have a significant and lasting impact upon Exeter’s education and research, creating long-term improvements that will benefit people in the future.

Many of our legacy donors choose to leave a gift to support the general purposes of the University, which goes towards the priorities that are most pressing when the gift is eventually received. Others however, choose to support a particular department or area of research. Some wish to donate to their former sports club. Whatever it is you are passionate about, chances are Exeter is too. For more specific gifts of this nature, we can advise to ensure that the objectives of your gift remain relevant by the time your gift comes to be realised. Please contact legacies@exeter.ac.uk in the first instance if you would like to discuss your wishes.

If you choose to support our Exeter Forever Endowment Fund, gifts received are invested and only the gains and interest of this endowment will ever be spent. Permanently endowed gifts have the power to keep on giving to the University, forever.

Our promises about gifts in Wills

Legacy donors are incredible people who make a commitment to providing for people they will never meet and securing a future for the University. We have a very serious responsibility to honour people’s wishes and make their legacies a reality.

  • We absolutely recognise that those closest to you come first in your Will.
  • We fully understand that personal circumstances change and there might be a time when you must take the University out of your Will.
  • We promise to use your gift wisely for the benefit of future generations.

Impact Stories: Behind every legacy gift is a person with a story

Gifts in Wills are a true celebration of life. We understand that leaving a gift in your Will is a very personal decision and thank some of our legacy pledgers for sharing why they choose to support Exeter in this way.

“My time at Exeter was in every sense a formative experience. I emerged more confident, with real self-belief and my sights set high. My Exeter degree also gave me professional credibility – it opened doors and provided an opportunity to achieve. I’ve always enjoyed being part of the Exeter community and it feels right to extend my association with the University beyond my own life. The thought that I can help someone achieve their potential, and give them the same opportunity that I had, is extremely satisfying.” Bettina Rigg, Law 1978


"As one of the first generation in my family to attend university, Exeter was a formative influence on my life. I would like future generations to have the privilege of that experience. Over recent years as an alumna, I have become increasingly proud of the world class research taking place at the University and the way it is seeking solutions to a wide range of the world’s problems. This is why I’ll be remembering Exeter in my Will." Melody Dougan (BA History, 1958)

Legacies can have a transformational impact upon teaching, research and the student experience. Lives are changed thanks to gifts in Wills:

When he passed away in 2016, Stuart Handley left a gift of £1.3million to support the Exeter Forever Fund, an endowment which provides unrestricted funding to support Exeter in perpetuity.

Stuart’s generosity means that Exeter can support vital projects in areas such as dementia, diabetes and marine plastics, both now and in the future. It will also ensure talented students have the opportunity to come to Exeter and realise their full potential, irrespective of their financial background.

Stuart was a Physics student at Exeter in the late 1960s, completing his undergraduate degree in 1967 and then returning for his PhD in 1971. He was a committed and loyal supporter of the University, volunteering his time as a member of the Alumni Annual Fund Disbursement Panel, and making regular gifts to support student societies as well as sporting projects. In recognition of Stuart’s legacy and long-term support, a teaching space in the Physics building was named in his honour at a special event. The Stuart Handley Teaching Laboratory is designed as a space for faculty and students to be inspired by learning. A group of Stuart’s friends, including alumni who graduated alongside Stuart, joined staff from the Physics department at the opening.

Anne Van Geyzel was a local Exeter resident and former Secretary to Vice-Chancellors Sir David Harrison and Sir Geoffrey Holland until her retirement. When she passed away in February 2017, she left a gift of £1,000 to support the maintenance of the University grounds. Thanks to this legacy, 25 new trees were planted at Birks Grange. These trees contribute to biodiversity and allow University buildings to sit in, rather that dominate, the landscape. 

The Niklaus Fund, originally set up in memory of Professor Robert Niklaus (pictured) to support French at Exeter, received a generous legacy donation from Professor Michael Cartwright (French, 1960) which has since had various positive impacts on the Modern Languages department at the University of Exeter. As well as providing funding for travel bursaries and the Niklaus-Cartwright lecture, the legacy donation has provided funding to support three PhD scholars, including French Literature student, Edward Mills. Edward said “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity, to investigate various French literary texts and to make an original contribution to knowledge in a subject that I have loved for many years”.

The memory of Philip Booth, a committed and generous supporter of the University, is continuing thanks to his decision to bequeath a legacy to the University of Exeter in 2015. Philip generously left a significant gift to the University to enhance the study of Mathematics, Physics and Engineering at Exeter, taking his total donations towards Exeter to £1,000,000. There could be no more fitting use of his generous legacy than in the development of the Living Systems Institute building, the centre of interdisciplinary research which brings together biologists, mathematicians, physicists, biomedical scientists and engineers to look at treating the world’s most serious diseases. In recognition of his exceptional generosity ‘The Philip Booth Seminar Room’ located within the Institute is a space for inter-disciplinary research, exchange and teaching.


In the sections below you can find out more about the tax benefits of leaving a gift in your Will, the various ways you can leave a Gift in your Will to the University, how we can work with you to put your legacy wishes into words, and the free Will drafting service our Law School offers for alumni in England and Wales. Just click on each section to expand it and read all the details.

Leaving a gift in your Will to the University of Exeter is tax efficient, as we are an exempt charity. Gifts are typically deducted from the value of your estate before inheritance tax is calculated. By donating 10% of your Will to charity, your inheritance tax may reduce further from 40% to 36% on the taxable part of your ‘estate’.

If you are living overseas you can still easily leave a gift in your Will to the University. We recommend, however, that in all cases you take independent legal advice to ensure your Will meets the laws and regulations in the UK or your country of domicile and residence. 

Nominating the University as a beneficiary of your pension fund could also provide tax benefits.

We recommend you seek independent professional advice to find out more – and it’s helpful to check with HMRC rules on inheritance tax too: https://www.gov.uk/inheritance-tax   

There are several ways you can leave a Gift in your Will to the University: 

Residuary legacy

The whole, or a specific portion or percentage, of an estate left over after making other specified legacies (typically to family members, friends and other charitable causes also specified in your Will). This is the most valuable form of legacy donation, as its value is unaffected by inflation.

Pecuniary legacy

The gift of a specific sum of money. The gift of a specific sum of money. The value of this type of legacy will decrease over time, however you may wish to Index-it in order to preserve its value despite inflation.

Reversionary legacy

A gift that is left to another beneficiary first, but that reverts back to the University, usually after the initial beneficiary has also died. Couples, parents, or those with dependents often choose this type of legacy. The gains and interest on the sum is available to be spent by the beneficiary/ies during their lifetime and then the capital is given to the University once there are no longer any surviving beneficiaries.

Contingent legacy

A gift which depends on the occurrence of an event, so is not guaranteed to be realised e.g. only if the donor survives other named beneficiaries.

Specific legacy – items and possessions

Some people choose to donate items which may be used by the University or that could be sold and proceeds used to support the University, such as art collections, rare books, property, land, shares, life insurances or pensions.

We can work with you to put your legacy wishes into words. If you have an area in mind that you would like to support, please get in touch.

For unrestricted gifts, suggested wording for making a gift in your Will is provided below.

"I give to the University of Exeter, Northcote House, The Queen's Drive, Exeter EX4 4QJ (exempt charity number X9538)...

 The residue of my estate

or     {a percentage} of the residue of my estate

or     the sum of £{amount} free of tax*

or     {specific item}

...for its generable charitable purposes, and I declare that the receipt of a proper officer of the University shall be a sufficient discharge to my executors."

* Please contact the University of Exeter should you wish to protect the future value of your legacy via index-linking.


Contact us

For more information or to discuss your intentions please email legacies@exeter.ac.uk or call 01392 723141 and one of the team would be happy to get back to you.

If you are thinking of leaving a gift to Exeter in your Will, or have already made provision to do so, we would be very grateful if you could let us know, so that we can thank you appropriately. Any information provided will be treated with the strictest confidence.

You may also wish to download a copy of our legacy brochure here: Download our legacy brochure