Bequests to U3A

by Allan Haggarty

U3A has made a real difference to the lives of many retirees. At the end of a term, knowing that classes would be in recess for some time, one of my U3A’s members said that he wouldn’t know what he’d do without U3A. And one of my U3A’s classes doesn’t stop during school holidays due to demand from its members for them to continue without interruption. A number of them live alone and thrive on keeping their brains active as well as the important social interaction that goes with it.

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on U3A’s future expansion in NSW, especially given the uncertainty of further government financial assistance which has assisted our growth in recent years, especially in regional areas. My thinking has also been influenced by one of the Network committee members reminding us that Peter Laslett, the founder of the Cambridge model for U3A, which Australia adopted, warned of the danger of relying on government funding lest it influenced U3A’s aims and objectives.

My thoughts turned to the huge difference the late Sir Samuel McCaughey’s will made, especially in relation to education. An irrigation pioneer from Yanco when he died nearly 100 years ago, he left enough money in his will to establish four faculties at Sydney University. When his biography was written 30 years later he was still NSW’s most generous philanthropist. Mind you, he was a bachelor and died a wealthy man. [Incidentally, if you are interested in his remarkable life, you need look no further than the Network’s Resource Library.]

I also reflected on my time as a solicitor. I recalled administering the estate of a bachelor who hadn’t made a will and part of whose estate had to be distributed to distant relatives he’d never met. I also thought about the occasional client who wished to make a will and leave something to charity. Sometimes they’d have a cause in mind but feel overcome by the number of different charities raising funds for similar purposes and not feel able to decide between them. Lately choices in this regard
have been further complicated by the number of charities who have disappointed supporters either because of the low proportion of the amount donated reaching its target or because of enquiries revealing disturbing aspects of their activities.

It occurred to me that if such people’s lives had been enriched by U3A they may have felt disposed to leave a bequest to further the work of either their local U3A or the Network itself. A glance at the Network’s website will remind you of the extent of the Network’s activities.

A bequest wouldn’t need to be a large amount. Every little helps. Even if you have limited means, it could be raised from the sale of your assets after your demise. Your lifestyle wouldn’t be compromised in your 3rdAge. and you’d have the satisfaction of knowing that the organisation that helped make it an uplifting experience would benefit in a meaningful way.

These days some retirees are reaping the benefits of the generous tax treatment of superannuation in recent years and may feel inclined to leave just a modest bequest to U3A, even if they’ve been blessed with family members to share in their estate. And as people are living longer, often by the time they pass away their children are already enjoying a comfortable retirement.

If you are interested in considering a bequest the wording could simply be as follows:- I bequeath the sum of $ to (blank) U3A Incorporated whose receipt signed by its Treasurer for the time being shall be a sufficient discharge to my Executor/s.


  1. The $ amount needs to be specified and it’s preferable if it’s expressed in both words and figures to avoid any uncertainty.
  2. The name of the U3A to be benefited should be inserted in the blank. If you’d prefer to leave the bequest to the Network, insert ‘U3A Network NSW Incorporated’ in lieu of ‘(blank) U3A Incorporated.’
  3. If the intended recipient U3A is not incorporated, which is rare, seek the advice of your solicitor, who should be asked to prepare the will in any event so as to ensure your wishes generally are able to be implemented.