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Heir Hunters

Heir HuntersThe RAF Benevolent Fund recently featured in the BBC show, Heir Hunters, about tracking down the beneficiaries of wills. Becky Brazier, from our fundraising team, tells us more.

Last week, I was fascinated to watch Heir Hunters. It is a series following probate research firms as they attempt to track down unwitting beneficiaries to estates.

In the show, an investigation into an unclaimed estate revealed the story of the daughter of an aviation engineer who helped design the remarkable Lysander aircraft.

As it turns out, a valid will was later found and the RAF Benevolent Fund was the sole beneficiary. The programme highlighted some key things for me about the role of legacies in supporting charities.

Having a valid and up to date will is really important. As this programme shows, without a will, your lifetime's possessions could be given away to someone you didn’t choose.

If no family are found, your estate is given to the government. So by having a valid will, you can ensure that you include anyone and anything that has been important in your life, such as your family and friends, or your favourite charity such as the RAF Benevolent Fund.

We generously received over £7 million from gifts in wills in 2011 – that's nearly 70% of our donations. One in three people who turn to us for help owe the support they receive to the kindness of those who left the RAF Benevolent Fund a gift in their wills. In fact, much of our work would not be possible without the generosity of people leaving a gift in their will.

The RAF has been serving the nation for 95 years and it will be needed just as much in the future. The RAF's technology may change dramatically, but there will always be men and women prepared to put their lives on the line, and the RAF Benevolent Fund will always be here if they need our help.

By Becky Brazier

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