Recently I was taken by the compassion and altruism of my client’s parents. I consulted with them recently on the terms of their son’s statutory will. I made a note of their preference to return the unused funds upon their son’s death. At first I thought this was quite unusual, but now I have come to realise how meaningful and moving it is.
Jonathan was injured at birth at a hospital in Oxford. An agreement was reached in relation to liability and Jonathan received a substantial damages award. Jonathan is now an adult, although his cognitive function is similar to a six year old. Jonathan has a care regime, a property suitable for his needs, parents who are dedicated to his happiness and comfort, and adequate funds to meet his needs for the rest of his life.
The time came to take instructions for Jonathan’s Will, and because he didn’t have mental capacity to make his own Will, this meant applying to the Court of Protection for authority to make one for him.
Jonathan’s parents felt very strongly about returning any unused funds when Jonathan dies, rather than passing it down the family line. They decided that they wanted it returned to the hospital trust that provided his care, to help others in some way. They proposed Oxford Hospitals Charity as the recipient.
Oxford Hospitals Charity raises money to support the service provided at the John Radcliffe, Churchill, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and Horton General hospitals. Its purpose is to enhance the capacity to deliver an outstanding service in compassionate excellence to its patients and staff through funding above the level that NHS funding alone allows.
In Jonathan’s case, the legacy to Oxford Hospitals Charity was to help provide specialist training, research and facilities at their hospitals in Oxford to prevent injuries like those suffered by Jonathan.
Jonathan’s mother stated:
“Whilst things went horribly wrong for Jonathan when he was born we know that there are also some amazing people and things that happen within the hospital every day. There are many disabled people who need the services of the hospital. Funding difficulties mean that the needs of disabled people are not always necessarily prioritised. By leaving a legacy we can help these people get the help that they need. The money will be returned to the hospital to be used for the good of other people like Jonathan.”
Oxford Hospitals Charity have said:
“Please accept our deepest appreciation and admiration for your approach to Jonathan’s estate. It is our most sincere hope that the funds will have been used to care for Jonathan during his lifetime in every beneficial way possible. However, if and when our charity does receive anything, it will represent an extremely important and lasting tribute to Jonathan, to the benefit of future generations of patients and families in our hospitals”
Providing for a charity in a Will is not new, and has many benefits including tax advantages. What struck me is that not only have Jonathan’s parents thought of using the entire estate to benefit others, but that returning the unused funds, or at least some of it, is not a common feature in wills and statutory wills.
Jonathan’s parents have taught me what compassion, forgiveness and altruism can look like, and they have shone a light on some of the incredible work carried out by this charity.
If you would like to learn more about the work carried out by Oxford Hospitals Charity, or would be interesting in supporting them, visit their website here: https://www.hospitalcharity.co.uk/
“Legacies are also extremely important to this charity, and allow us to fund very special projects and improvements which simply couldn't happen without these generous gifts from Wills” - https://www.hospitalcharity.co.uk/our-impact
If you have any queries or questions about how to support someone to make their own decisions then please contact our Court of Protection team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.