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Betting on a charity’s future after your death

On 21st June, the Daily Telegraph reported on the story of Nicholas Newlife’s estate and the impact it could have on the charity Oxfam.

Mr Newlife left his entire estate to Oxfam when he died in February 2009, aged 69, which included the outcomes of the series of outstanding bets he had placed.

The bet reported on was one set to benefit Oxfam to the tune of £100,000 if (then) favourite Federer won Wimbledon in 2010. We now know that this was unsuccessful but there are a further four bets, still ‘in play’.

– £1,520 on Federer to win Wimbledon men’s singles at least seven times before 2020 at 66/1 – this would win £101,840 for Oxfam if he comes out on top at Wimbledon

– £1,000 on Andy Roddick to win at least seven grand slam singles titles before 2020 at 33/1 – this would win £34,000 for Oxfam

– £750 on Andy Roddick to win at least 10 grand slam singles titles before 2020 at 100/1 – this would win £75,075 for Oxfam

– £350 on Ramnaresh Sarwan to make more than 7,000 Test match runs by end of 2019 at 50/1 – this would win £17,850 * £300 on Ramnaresh Sarwan to make more than 8,000 Test match runs by end of 2019 at 100/1 – this would win £30,300 * £250 on Ramnaresh Sarwan to make more than 9,000 Test match runs by end of 2019 at 250/1 – this would win £62,750

The first of Mr Newlife’s bets, £250 on Federer to win at least 14 Grand Slam titles before 2020 at 66/1, won £16,750 for Oxfam and was claimed earlier this year. Because Mr Newlife died whilst these bets were still outstanding they were included in his legacy to Oxfam and any proceeds go to the charity, as beneficiaries.

The wagers, placed with bookmakers William Hill between 2000 and 2005 by Mr Newlife, from Kidlington, Oxfordshire, could raise a further £330,000 for the charity over the next 10 years.

Cathy Ferrier, fund-raising and supporter marketing director at Oxfam, said: “We’re enormously grateful to Mr Newlife for his generous gift.

“Legacies amount to 10 per cent of our total income from individuals, so they’re essential to us, and as this case proves they can come in all shapes and sizes. It is very easy to make a Will and including Oxfam could leave a lasting legacy for those most in need.

“Every time someone leaves us a gift in their Will, whether that’s a few pounds or a few thousands pounds, it helps us make a huge difference to thousands of lives around the world.

William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said: “Mr Newlife was clearly a very shrewd sporting gambler whose early identification of potential superstars won tens of thousands of pounds for himself while he was still alive – but to ensure that a respected charity would benefit from any bets which came to fruition after his death makes him unprecedented in my 30 year experience of the betting industry.

“We will, of course, be handing the profits from his far-sighted wager to them just as soon as Federer holds the trophy aloft for a seventh time.”

Oxfam benefits from the generosity of around 600 legacies every year and the charity receives on average around £10 million per year from legacy gifts.

As suggested by Ms Ferrier, the importance of making a Will should not be under-estimated, particularly if you wish to make provisions for legacies to charities (or take such an imaginative approach as Mr Newlife). For more advice on making a Will, charitable legacies or dealing with Probate on matters raised in this article, please get in touch.

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