The Curious Case of the JNF UK and the Widow’s Legacy.

JNF UK operates a will-writing service. In March 2020 this came under fire from the Fundraising Regulator whose job it is to check that charities act with propriety. JNF UK were found not to have done so and the case makes for interesting reading.

A wealthy man decided to make a will using the JNF subsidiary (KKL Charity Accounts Ltd). His total net estate came to £19,866,809 – a hefty amount. After his old will was re-written by JNF this was the surprising outcome:

  • Two family members had their benefit cut from £100k to £10k.
  • £20K each was left to two armed services charities that had been newly added to the will
  • £500K was left to the man’s widow
  • All the rest (of the £19,866,809!) was to be kept in trust during the widow’s lifetime and then, on her death, it would pass to….the JNF.
  • The deceased had not spoken of the JNF before the will was made and his family knew nothing till after his death

The widow complained; witnesses were “shocked and saddened” that “so little” was left to her and such a vast amount to this charity.

The Fundraising Regulator agreed with the complaint. KKL Accounts should not have been involved in drafting a will which left money to JNF UK. There were insufficient safeguards and procedures in place to ensure that the will-writing service was not influenced by the charity. The Regulator stopped short of saying undue influence had been applied to the elderly man, because of a lack of evidence, but did refer the matter to the Charity Commission. See more here.