Leave a gift in your Will

Legacies form the cornerstone of The Courtauld, ever since our first benefactors, Samuel Courtauld, Sir Robert Witt and Viscount Lee of Fareham, bequeathed their art collections and founded the Institute. Their generosity and foresight ensured that The Courtauld has become the most critically engaged, welcoming and generous institution for the study of art history, curation and conservation in the world.

Few, if any of us, possess a private art and library collection to rival Samuel Courtauld, Robert Witt and Viscount Lee’s combined collections, but anyone can remember The Courtauld with a gift in their Will. All legacy gifts – whether large or small – are immensely important to allow us to plan for the future. A gift in your Will has the power to transform the lives of many who study and work at The Courtauld, particularly by growing our endowment fund so that the impact of your donation lasts in perpetuity.

Contact us

If you would like to have a confidential conversation about how your gift could make an impact, please contact Miriam Thiede, Senior Development Manager, on +44(0) 20 3947 7741 or email legacies@courtauld.ac.uk.

The Courtauld Institute of Art
Somerset House
London WC2R 0RN

How you can make a difference

How to leave a gift in your Will

We always recommend that you consult a professional adviser or solicitor to have your will drafted or updated. If you have already completed your Will and would now like to include a legacy to The Courtauld, you can easily make an addition by including a codicil. This is an easy way to amend your Will, without having to completely rewrite it.

Important information for your gift in your Will
To leave a gift to The Courtauld, you must ensure that your Will includes the following information:

  • Our full name: The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • Our registered address: Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN
  • Our exempt charity reference: XR60596

Suggested wording for an unrestricted legacy gift to The Courtauld in your Will

“I give to The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN (Exempt Charity Reference XR60596)

A XX % share of/the residue of my estate
OR the sum of £_ (specify value)
OR/AND my (insert full description of item and location)

To be used for the general purposes of the Charity, and I declare that the receipt of The Treasurer or duly authorised officer for the time being of the Charity shall be a full and sufficient discharge to my Executors.”


I would like to leave a legacy to The Courtauld Institute of Art. How do I do this?
When writing a Will, it is important to seek professional advice.

You should engage a solicitor to help draft your Will, and choose someone to be an executor to administer your wishes. The next step is to estimate the approximate size of your estate. You can do this by listing everything you own (assets) including money, property, cars and other valuables, and everything you owe (liabilities) including mortgages and other loans. This simple process will help you ensure that your family, friends and others can be provided for in line with your wishes.

What details do I need in order to include The Courtauld Institute of Art in my Will?
When including a legacy to The Courtauld Institute of Art it is very important to include our full name, our exempt charity reference XR60596 and the correct registered address:

The Courtauld Institute of Art
Somerset House
London WC2R 0RN

The Courtauld Institute of Art is an exempt charity under the Exempt Charities Order 2002. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have accepted that The Courtauld Institute of Art is a charity for tax purposes under the reference XR60596. This means your gift will be exempt from inheritance tax.

What type of legacy can I leave to The Courtauld?
Anyone can remember The Courtauld with a gift in their Will. Government funding and tuition fees only provide for under half of our financial needs and so we depend on donations from individuals to help us achieve excellence – gifts of all sizes make a difference.

I have an object (for example a painting, drawing, print, sculpture, work of decorative art, book, periodical or exhibition catalogue) that I want to leave to The Courtauld.

How do I do this?
If you are considering leaving an object to The Courtauld, we would strongly encourage you to contact us to discuss your plans. Naturally, we will treat any such discussions with the strictest confidence and we will only involve appropriate staff from within The Courtauld (for example The Head of The Courtauld Gallery or Head of Book, Witt and Conway Libraries) with discretion.

Once you have discussed your plans with us and you are ready to make the arrangements to leave us a suitable object in your Will, please consider leaving a monetary donation alongside this gift. There is an ongoing annual programme of maintenance, upgrades and repairs needed for The Courtauld Gallery as well as the Book, Witt and Conway Libraries, crucial to ensuring the wellbeing of the collections. Costs include the environmental control system, heating, security, fire protection, painting and preservation.

I’d like to restrict my legacy to a specific area of The Courtauld’s work (for example a particular research project or the conservation of a particular painting).

How can I do this?
It is best for us if gifts are made unconditionally. The majority of our supporters make their donation in this way because such gifts allow The Courtauld’s Board of Governors to consider carefully how to make the best use of each gift to meet the changing priorities of the time.

Of course, we completely understand if you would prefer your gift to support a certain area of our work. We recommend that you get in touch with us to discuss your intentions, so that we can ensure that the wording of your Will allows us to use your gift as you intended.

What kind of legacy gift would be most valuable to The Courtauld?
If you’re in two minds about what kind of gift to leave to us, a share of your estate (a residuary gift, please see below for details) is useful because it maintains its real value over time, reflecting your true intentions.

What is a residuary legacy?
A residuary legacy is a gift of the remainder of your estate, or a percentage, after all other legacies have been made and outstanding debts have been cleared. Residuary legacies keep pace with inflation and are an effective way to divide the value of an estate between a number of people and causes.

What is a pecuniary legacy?
A pecuniary legacy is a gift in your Will of a fixed sum of money, but please bear in mind that its real value will decrease over time unless it is index linked.

What is a specific legacy?
A gift of a particular item, such as a work of art, a property or shares, is known as a specific legacy. If you are considering leaving an object to The Courtauld, please see the ‘I have an object…’ question above. We would strongly encourage you to contact us please to discuss your plans.

What is a reversionary legacy?
This allows a beneficiary such as your spouse or a dependent to benefit from your assets during their lifetime, for example living in your house, with all or part of the asset passing to The Courtauld on their death. It can provide peace of mind that a loved one’s interests will be protected during their lifetime.

What about the tax benefits?
Gifts to charities are taken out of your estate before tax is calculated and are 100% free from tax. This may mean that leaving a gift to charity such as The Courtauld reduces your Inheritance Tax liability. Your professional advisor will be able to tell you more and you may also find the ‘Inheritance Tax’ section of the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website helpful.

Can I change my mind about leaving a legacy to The Courtauld Institute of Art?
Yes. Even if you have told us that you are planning to leave a legacy to The Courtauld, you are completely free to alter your Will at any time. You do not even have to let The Courtauld know that you have changed your plans, although of course we would be grateful if you informed us so that we can update our records.

If you have been prompted to change your Will because of a development within The Courtauld, perhaps a change in personnel or to The Courtauld’s mission, please contact us to tell us about your concerns. Of course, you may be prompted to amend your Will because of a happy circumstance, such as the birth of a child or grandchild, and if this is the case you should feel assured that we will completely understand when you contact us to let us know.

Our pledger programme

We are grateful to everyone who has chosen to remember The Courtauld in their Will. We appreciate that leaving a legacy gift is a personal decision that you may prefer to keep private, but we would love the opportunity to thank you if you are happy to share your intentions with us.  Letting us know when you have included The Courtauld in your Will is extremely helpful to us as it enables us to make projections. It also allows us to thank you in your lifetime and show you how your gift could make a difference. Please be assured that any information you give to us will always be treated in the strictest confidence.

Two people standing in a gallery looking at a painting i Students in the Gallery


Collyer Bristow: The Fine Art of Probate – a podcast featuring Legacy giving at The Courtauld


An informative talk on making your Will and the future of The Courtauld, May 2021.

Make a gift in memory

Making a gift in memory of a loved one allows you both to celebrate their life and secure the future of The Courtauld.  Whether you want to do this on your own, with a small group of family or friends, or with everyone who was touched by your loved one’s life – there are lots of special and meaningful ways you can remember and honour them.

Sophie Trevelyan Thomas, 1984–2013

Spotlight: The Sophie Trevelyan Thomas Scholarship

In 2014, The Courtauld established an endowed scholarship fund in memory of alumna Sophie Trevelyan Thomas (1984-2013). At the suggestion of her family, and with the warm agreements of The Courtauld, it was felt that the endowment was a fitting tribute to Sophie, given her talents and passions. This scholarship has created an enduring legacy for the field of art history – educating the very best art historians for generations to come.

With thanks to the generosity of Sophie’s family, friends, colleagues and The Courtauld’s community of donors, over £250,000 was raised to begin the fund. The Sophie Trevelyan Thomas Scholarship supports the tuition fees for one or more students undertaking an MA in any module from the Medieval or Renaissance period.

"I would not have been able to undertake this year of study, and I cannot thank you enough for your gift. It was a very great privilege to receive Sophie's scholarship, and I have always kept in mind the extremely special nature of my award as a gift that honours the memory of Sophie."
Oliver Coulson, MA, Sophie Trevelyan Thomas Scholar 2015

The Courtauld Institute of Art is a company limited by guarantee (company no. 4464432) and an exempt charity for the purposes of the Charities Act 1993 under the exempt charities order 2002 No. 1626.