Help & Advice

Help & Advice for Legacy Professionals

If you are new to legacy management, it can feel quite daunting. But the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone and that there is a lot of help and support available. Smee & Ford have close links with The Institute of Legacy Management who provide a wide range of help and support for those starting out in the profession. We recommend contacting the ILM directly for any advice on handling sensitive communications to executors and best practice.

Introducing The Institute of Legacy Management (ILM)

ILM partner


Smee & Ford are pleased to partner with the Institute of Legacy Management (ILM), a membership organisation for legacy professionals which offers help and support to all those involved in legacy management. As well as training and events, they also offer free advice on their website, including Good Practice Guidance. This Guidance establishes a set of five core principles that are integral to the work of all legacy professionals. These are

  • Sensitivity
  • Transparency
  • Integrity
  • Collaboration
  • Informed

You can read about these principles in details here:

ILM Principles

One of the issues ILM considers in its guidance is how to deal with executors.

These are the top three considerations:

  1. Be sensitive: Often, executors are friends or family of the deceased, so it is vital to treat them sensitively
  2. Be transparent: Explain clearly what you need to do as a charity and why
  3. Act with integrity: Be dignified and respectful at all times, even if there are difficult conversations to be had

For more guidance please refer to the ILM Good Practice Guidance – Communications following receipt of gifts.

ILM Good Practice Guidance

When to collaborate with other charities


Often gifts are given in the same will to more than one charity. If you are named in a will alongside other charity beneficiaries, working in collaboration can often speed up the administration of the estate and is likely to reduce costs. Drawing on the experience of the other named charities can also be very helpful. Some charities have experts in tax or have experienced lawyers who can advise on particular issues.

ILM offers some guidelines on how to get started in working together. You can read them here.


ILM Collaboration Guidelines

Guidance for Executors

Executors might also need help and advice when they have been given the responsibility of carrying out a person’s dying wishes. ILM also has some helpful guidance here.

Jargon Buster

There are lots of new terms you’ll come across straight away in your role, and our jargon buster will help you to understand immediately what these terms mean…

Beneficiary – a person or organisation, such as a charity, who benefits from a person’s will

Bequest – a gift left in a will

Pecuniary Gift - a legacy of a set amount of money, ie. £100

Residuary Gift - a share or all of the remainder of the estate once all the debts, funeral & testamentary expenses, and other legacies have been paid

Codicil – an addition or amendment to a will

Executor – a person or persons (this could be as solicitor or a friend, for example) who carries out the deceased’s wishes and ensures the estate is dealt with in accordance to the will

Estate – this is the value of everything that is owned by the deceased at the time of their death

Inheritance tax or IHT – this is a more complicated one! It refers to the tax on the value of a person’s estate after their death, minus any deductions or exemptions. This is a good place to find out more.

Intestacy – when a person dies without a will

Probate – the legal process by which an estate is dealt with