Bequests fact sheet

Bequests are one means of acquiring objects or financial support. Museums and galleries need to be aware of some important legal and management considerations in this area.

  • Any items or money to be bequeathed must be expressed in a legal Will.
  • The organisation is entitled to claim the gift once Probate has been carried out.
  • The organisation is not restricted by the request and can reject the offer.
  • If the bequest is accompanied by unsuitable conditions the organisation can apply to the court or the executors to have the Will amended.
  • If items have been disposed of before the time of the organisation’s claim in the event of a deceased estate, the executors have the responsibility for the return of the requested items, or be held liable.
  • If items have been disposed of by the donor before their death, the organisation has no claim despite the fact it is mentioned in the Will.
  • The executors of the Will should honour the legacy; however in some instances it is up to the beneficiary to chase up the bequest themselves. This process is made difficult if the would-be-donor dies intestate or has no legal representation. In these situations the organisation may not necessarily be notified of the death.


Download this fact sheet for more information on accepting bequests of objects and cash gifts.


While all care has been taken to ensure information is accurate at the time of publication, all information in this resource is intended as a guide only.  You should obtain professional advice if you have any specific concerns.