Sir Richard Branson joins public charity bequest worth £500 million

Date: Nov 03, 2011

Virgin billionaire Sir Richard Branson has joined a number of wealthy public figures in a public pledge to donate ten per cent of his wealth to charity in the event of his death.

The world-famous entrepreneur has made the promise as part of the Legacy 10 initiative that urges members of the public to consider the needs of the less fortunate in their estate planning activities.

Speaking on his decision in a public statement, Branson reportedly said: "I think Legacy 10 is a terrific initiative and I support it wholeheartedly."

Branson's assets are currently valued at around £3.1 billion (AU $4.8 billion) as at November 3 and includes his stakes in the global Virgin empire that deals with services ranging from home loans and credit cards to international flights, private gyms and hot-air balloon rides.

The initiative is the brainchild of Ronald Rudd - the founder of financial communications firm Finsbury - who has since been joined by a number of generous counterparts to increase the number of people leaving bequests to charities.

He was joined by the founder of Carphone Warehouse Charles Dunstone and investment banker Jacob Rothschild in making the charitable promise - with the combined total to be donated to worthy causes reaching approximately half a billion pounds sterling.

The initiative has gained the interest of officials around the world, with UK cultural secretary Jeremy Hunt praising the idea as "brilliant".

Hunt said: "Including a gift to charity in a will is a great way to recognise an organisation that's been there for you during your life.

"It's also a brilliant way to help that charity become more financially secure and continue their work in the future."

Industry expert David Burrows said the plans was "excellent" before commenting that there may be a better way to express the idea to wealthy members of the public and their families.

He said: "Expressing the percentage as £1 in £10 might work better for the public - as this (somewhat irrationally) makes it clearer that £9 in £10 still goes to your loved ones."

In Australia there are laws that govern the division of a person's assets that still need to be considered during the estate planning process.

Talking with family members and loved ones about the decisions to be made can help take their needs and views into account.

Involving these valued individuals in the planning process may give them a better insight into the reasoning behind a particular division and could potentially reduce the chance of an estate dispute.