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Leave a gift in your will

As a charity, legacy gifts are a vital source of income for our museums. Leave a gift in your will and help protect Scotland's national collections for future generations.

An older man talking to a very young girl in the Imagine gallery

Gifts in wills help us to care for, conserve and add to our existing collections, push the boundaries of research, and educate and inspire through our permanent collections and world-class exhibitions.

Whether you are a regular visitor, have fond memories of a childhood spent exploring Scotland’s collections or are simply passionate about the power of museums to inspire, a gift in your will, no matter what size, will ensure a better future for National Museums Scotland – while costing you nothing in your lifetime.

After you have taken care of the people closest to you, by choosing to remember us with a legacy gift you can play a crucial role in helping our museums remain an important part of people’s lives long into the future, as well as honouring your own story or that of a loved one.

People from all walks of life have left gifts in their will to National Museums Scotland

These are just a few of the generous individuals whose stories live on through the remarkable objects in our collections.

A family interacts with a touchscreen next to a display case.

New Zealander Elizabeth McArthur moved to London to work as a teacher, and later to East Lothian with her husband to retire. They regularly visited the National Museum of Scotland; when Elizabeth passed away she left a gift in her will to National Museums Scotland and also asked for any funeral donations to be gifted to the museum. When Elizabeth’s family told us she had an interest in Chinese ceramics, we put her generous donation to a suitable use: contributing to new ceramics displays in our Exploring East Asia gallery.

Born in Airdrie and educated in Glasgow, George McNeil spent most of his life in Edinburgh and proudly took visitors to sights including the National Museum of Scotland. As a proud Scot and a teacher, he had a great knowledge of Scottish history and always understood the importance of both family and national history to the cultural inheritance of the country. Inspired by the museum's collections, he wanted to leave a gift in his will so that future generations could enjoy the museum throughout their lives just as he had. 

Engineer Ian Fleming had a varied career in the agricultural sector which took him all over Scotland. He was passionate about engaging younger generations with Scotland’s agricultural heritage and loved visiting the National Museum of Rural Life. He and his wife Margaret left a generous gift to the museum in their wills which helped to fund three-year programme of improvements. Today, visitors can continue to learn about Scotland’s landscape and all that it gives us, thanks to Ian and Margaret’s gift.

Edinburgh local Norma Drummond visited the National Museum of Scotland throughout her life. She witnessed the museum change over the years and saw first-hand the latest 15-year redevelopment of the Victorian building into a space that all generations could enjoy. Her favourite place was the new Fashion & Style gallery which opened in 2016. Inspired by the museum's redevelopment, she wanted to leave a gift in her will so that future generations could enjoy the museum throughout their lives just as she had. 

How to leave a gift in your will

When making or updating your will we strongly recommend that you consult a solicitor to ensure it is legally valid and reflects your intentions. The following wording can be adapted by your solicitor to suit the type of gift you wish to leave: 

I give, devise and bequeath to National Museums Scotland Charitable Trust (Charity No: SC006964) of Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF

the sum of £xxx (xxx pounds)  

or  

the whole (or xxx% share) of my residuary estate  

or  

[insert details of a specific gift] to hold on trust for its general charitable purposes, and I declare receipt of the Treasurer or duly authorised officer shall be a full and sufficient discharge. 

An unrestricted bequest is always the most helpful; however if you are considering directing your gift to a particular site or area of our work we would welcome the opportunity to discuss your plans with you before you commit them to a will, to ensure we can meet your wishes.  

If you are interested in donating a specific object to our collection we would invite you to complete our Object Donation Form.

Frequently asked questions

Leaving a gift in your will is a big decision and we realise you may have questions about it. Hopefully the information below will answer many of them, but please get in touch if you have any other queries – we’d be happy to hear from you.

Many people believe they must be wealthy to leave a gift to charity in their will, but this is certainly not the case. Any gift, no matter the size, makes an impact and helps to ensure that our remarkable objects and their stories live on to delight and inspire people for generations to come.

Writing a will is very important, as it is the only way to ensure your wishes are fulfilled, and guarantees that both your loved ones and the causes you believe in receive the gifts you intend for them - that’s why we recommend you ask a solicitor to help you write or update your will. You can use the following websites to search for a solicitor near you: 

Remember a Charity

Law Society

Law Society Scotland

If you have already made a will, but would like to leave a gift to National Museums Scotland, you can do so by writing a Codicil. The following wording can be adapted by your solicitor to suit the type of gift you wish to leave: 

I [full name] of [full address] declare this to be a [first/second] codicil to my will dated [DD/MM/YYYY]

In addition to any legacies given in my said will, I give, devise and bequeath to National Museums Scotland Charitable Trust (Charity No: SC006964) of Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF 

the sum of £xxx (xxx pounds) 

or 

[the whole/xxx% share] of my residuary estate 

or 

[insert details of a specific gift] 

to hold on trust for its general charitable purposes, and I declare receipt of the Treasurer or duly authorised officer shall be a full and sufficient discharge. In all other respects I confirm my said will and any other codicils thereto. 

Please remember that, to be valid, a Codicil needs to be witnessed in the same way as a will.

Thank you for choosing to support National Museums Scotland. Please consider getting in touch to tell us your intentions. This places you under no obligation but allows us to say thank you properly and show you the impact your gift will make.

A residuary legacy is the gift of a share, or all, of the remainder of your estate once loved ones have been taken care of, and has the benefit that it will not lose value over time. 

A pecuniary legacy is the gift of a fixed sum of money. The value of pecuniary legacies will decrease over time, as the cost of living rises. However, you may link your legacy to the Retail Price Index to ensure its worth in the future will be equivalent to its worth today. 

A reversionary legacy, or life-rent, is a gift to National Museums Scotland Charitable Trust after you have provided for your family first during their lifetime, and is paid to us only after the death of other named persons, for example a spouse or civil partner. 

A specific legacy is the gift of a particular item or object – more information about leaving specific objects can be found below.

If you are interested in donating a specific object to National Museums Scotland in your lifetime you can find out how to do so here.

If you wish to leave a specific object in your will, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss your plans with you before you commit them to a will, to ensure we can meet your wishes.

Yes. All charitable gifts in wills are exempt from inheritance tax. You may wish to discuss other ways of minimising the tax burden on your estate with your solicitor.

An unrestricted bequest is always the most helpful as it allows us to use the money wherever it is needed most at the time; however if you are considering restricting your legacy to a particular site or area of our work, or you are considering leaving a specific object for our collection, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss your plans with you before you commit them to a Will, to ensure we can meet your wishes.

You can request that donations at National Museums Scotland in lieu of flowers. If this is stated in your Will, your Executors can make sure your wishes are known. 

Suggested wording: 'I request that instead of flowers at my funeral, donations are made to National Museums Scotland Charitable Trust (Charity No: SC006964), Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF.’

If you have any other questions or if you would like to know more about making a gift to National Museums Scotland in your will, please get in touch by emailing Aimée Hooper, Development Manager, at a.hooper@nms.ac.uk or phoning 0131 241 4191.

Letting us know

If you decide to include National Museums Scotland in your will, please let us know. This will give us the opportunity to thank you and show you how your gift will make a difference.

To find out more, to discuss your gift in more detail, or to explore leaving a gift in memory of a loved one, please contact our Development Manager, Aimee Hooper.

Thank you for considering supporting us in this special way.

Aimée Hooper
Development Manager

E: a.hooper@nms.ac.uk T: 0131 247 4191

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