‘Unusually high death rate’ will lead to £50m legacy increase

14 Feb 2017 News

Legacy Foresight has predicted that there will be £50m worth of extra legacy income over the next two years, due to an "unusually high level of deaths" during 2016. 

Meg Abdy, director of Legacy Foresight, told Civil Society News that a higher than average number of deaths in the UK throughout last year could see as much as £50m worth of extra income from legacies be made available for charities over the next two years. 

Legacy Foresight said that across 2016 there were 30,000 more deaths than the Office of National Statistics projected, meaning that charitable bequests in wills are likely to see a spike in terms of income come the spring of 2017. 

In November 2016 some 52,600 people died, an increase of 6,000 from the previous year and 13 per cent higher than the yearly average. This spike in deaths in November, brought the month more in to line with figures seen in what the OCS calls the ‘Excess Winter Deaths’ period, between December and March. 

Tim Yates, analyst at Legacy Foresight, said that the number of recorded deaths in the UK were much higher than average in November 2016, as well as in August, which was particularly unusual. 

“As yet there are no clear explanations for November’s increase in deaths,” he said. “Other recent death ‘spikes’ have been attributed to weather effects, ineffective flu vaccines or just natural month-to-month variation, and some combination of those factors is likely to have been the cause on this occasion. The picture is likely to become clearer over the coming months and we will continue to monitor the topic closely.”

Yates said that on average charities are notified of receiving a bequest between five and six months after the legator’s death, meaning that the high number of mortalities in November meant that charities could expect bequests in the spring to be “greater than normal”. 

“We have already observed that many of our large legacy clients received more legacies than expected in 2016. This is likely to be partly due to the higher-than-expected number of deaths through much of the year; deaths recorded in June and especially, August – usually the month when the fewest people die – also numbered well above-average”.

Legacy Foresight said that, while 2016 will be remembered by many as the “Year of Celebrity Deaths, it was a year of unusually high numbers of death among non-celebrities too”. 


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