Making a gift in your Will

RCM string quartet playing on the stage of the RCM Britten Theatre
It’s important to make a Will, not least to avoid the difficulties that may arise for loved ones if you die without one. The information below outlines some of the key elements you will need to consider, should you choose to leave a legacy gift to the Royal College of Music.

It is advisable to consult a solicitor, or you may wish to take advantage of our free online Will-writing service. If you have already written your Will and now wish to leave a gift to the RCM, you can make an addition by including a codicil.

To leave a gift to the Royal College of Music you must ensure that your Will states our full name, address and Registered Charity Number:

Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BS UK
Registered Charity Number: 309268

The RCM is signed up to the Fundraising Regulator’s Code of Fundraising Practice and is a signatory of its Fundraising Promise. For further details, please refer to our brochure.

What kind of gift can I make?

It is important to indicate which type of gift you wish to leave. You can leave a restricted gift for a specified purpose, or an unrestricted gift, which has no conditions attached. An unrestricted gift allows us to make the most of your generosity according to our area of greatest need at the time. There are four main types of legacy gift.

Residuary legacy

A residuary legacy is a share of your estate. This can either be a percentage of what remains once your loved ones are provided for. As this gift is a proportion of your estate, it keeps pace with inflation.

Pecuniary legacy

A pecuniary legacy is a fixed sum of money. You can choose to leave any amount, but since inflation reduces its value, you may wish to review the gift from time to time. You can also index link a pecuniary legacy to ensure it keeps its value in line with inflation.

Specific legacy

You can leave a gift of a particular item such as property, shares or a fine stringed instrument. Please do discuss this with us first, as in some cases there may be transport costs to consider.

Reversionary legacy

A reversionary legacy allows a beneficiary such as a spouse or a dependent to benefit from your assets during their lifetime, such as living in your house, with all or part of the assets passing to the RCM on their death. This provides peace of mind that a loved one’s interests will be protected in their lifetime.    

Sample wording for your Will

I give to the Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Road, London, SW7 2BS, UK (Registered Charity Number: 309268) (‘the Charity’) 

  • a [specify percentage]% share of/the residue of my estate


  • the sum of £[specify value]


  • my [insert full description of item and its 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.

If you would like your legacy to be directed towards a specific area please contact us so we can ensure your wishes can be met.

Tax matters

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 a charity such as the RCM reduces your Inheritance Tax liability.

Since the 2012 budget, gifts to charities of 10% or more of your net estate reduce your Inheritance Tax liability from 40% to 36%, meaning it can be possible to leave a transformational gift to your preferred charity whilst the net cost to your loved ones is substantially reduced. Please visit the HMRC website for the latest information, or consult your solicitor or financial adviser.

Pension benefits

You may also be able to nominate the Royal College of Music as a beneficiary in your pension or SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension). Please speak to your pension provider to nominate the RCM.


RCM legacy promises

  • We understand your friends and family are important and come first when making your Will.
  • You and your family will always be treated with courtesy, sensitivity, and respect.
  • You can change your mind at any point about leaving a gift to the RCM in your Will and we will respect your decision.
  • We will use your gift wisely and cost-effectively so it has the greatest possible impact and are happy to discuss how your gift could be used.
  • We respect your right to privacy – you don’t have to tell us if you have left a gift to the RCM in your Will (but we would love the opportunity to thank you if you do!)
  • Any personal data you choose to share with us will be handled securely and confidentially. You can choose how we contact you. Please see our privacy policy for more information.

Legacy Gifts: RCM String Instrument Collection

Throughout the course of its history, the Royal College of Music has benefitted enormously from many legacy gifts including musical instruments. The RCM is custodian to a highly important collection of string instruments which includes some of the finest examples of Italian, French and English makers such as Guadagnini, Goffriller, Camilli, Tononi, Gagliano, Vuillaume, Betts, Banks and Hill. 
These instruments are historically significant and, most importantly, they are a working collection for the benefit of talented RCM musicians, enabling them to have access to the best and rarest instruments in the world. The collection serves an important purpose today, but it also has a story to tell – where and by whom the instruments were made, the history of each former owner, and who has played them over the years; today’s RCM musicians are part of that history. The string collection is maintained and expertly restored by world-renowned authority on fine violins Florian Leonhard.  
Approximately 40% of the collection has evolved through gifts and bequests, the majority of which are fine string instruments the RCM would not normally be able to purchase.  

Ina Boyle (1889–1967)

Ina Boyle, who bequeathed her Betts cello to the RCM in 1967, was the most prolific and significant female composer from Ireland before 1950. 

Her first music lessons were with her father, Reverend William Foster Boyle, and she was taught the violin and cello by her governess. She began to compose at an early age and studied composition with private teachers in Dublin. In 1923 she made the journey to the UK for lessons with Ralph Vaughan Williams, then a teacher at the RCM, who thought highly of her music. Sadly, due to the outbreak of the Second World War, she had to end her travels. Ina continued to compose throughout her life and her friend and contemporary at the RCM, Elizabeth Maconchy, noted that, as a result of her isolation, her music was not well known.

John Betts (1752–1823) was apprenticed in 1765 to Richard Duke, another successful British luthier of the time, and subsequently purchased his business. Betts went on to employ many eminent makers including Vincenzo Panormo, Joseph and Henry Lockey Hill, and John Furber. Betts was the leading instrument dealer of his time in London and one of the first to import Italian instruments. Not only is Ina's Betts cello a fine string instrument, now played by young RCM musicians, but it also embodies an inspiring and personal history. 

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