No matter how small the legacy, the Benaki Museum immediately recognises the testator as a donor upon receipt of legal or notarial notice that a given will or codicil includes a gift to the Museum. The Museum is informed of the size of the legacy following the opening of the will or its legal publication, unless the testator wishes to provide details of the gift at an earlier date.
The legacy may be made in favour of the Benaki Museum or one of its Departments or annexes. If the testator wishes to specify in his will that the legacy is to be used for a specific purpose, the Museum asks that the time frame within which the set aim is to be achieved does not exceed thirty years. If after this period the testator's wishes remain unfulfilled, the Board of Trustees of the Museum shall be entitled to use the income from the legacy for other purposes.
Types of legacies
Different types of legacies include:
- Monetary legacies: The Benaki Museum inherits a set sum of money.
- Legacies of property: The Benaki Museum inherits specified works of art, shares, bonds, the contents of a safety deposit box etc, or real estate.
- Shared legacy: The Benaki Museum inherits part of a legacy, sharing it with another institution or individual.
- Full legacy: The Benaki Museum is designated as the testator's general heir, after the payment of expenses or set sums to third parties.
- Legacy with provision for an income to be paid to the heir/heirs: The legacy makes provision for the payment of an income to one or more heirs for life or for a set length of time, after which the property passes to the Museum.
- Legacy with provision for the right of an heir to reside in the property: The Museum is designated the testator's general heir and inherits the property only after the death of another heir, who is entitled to reside in the property for the rest of his life.
- Cession of the proceeds of a life insurance policy, pension, etc.: Insurance policies frequently become void, for instance when the beneficiary dies before the insured party. To avoid this the Benaki Museum may be named as an alternate beneficiary.
- Ceding of the right to titles of assets: In some contracts, such as those regarding mutual funds, the Benaki Museum may be appointed alternative beneficiary.
- Declining a legacy in favour of the Museum: Heirs with a distant or no blood relationship with the testator (who would be subject to considerable taxation) may wish in advance to decline the legacy in favour of the Benaki Museum. The Benaki Museum's legal team shall propose alternative benefits to individuals who decline legacies in favour of the Museum.
In many of the above cases the careful formulation of a will ensures that the other heirs will enjoy significant tax benefits. The legal team of the Benaki Museum will be happy to assist you, or your legal advisor, to formulate a legacy or suggest alternate forms of donations.
The Benaki Museum does not require that it take immediate possession of all donations that it receives.
A donation to the Benaki Museum may be formulated in such a way that it guarantees payment of a steady income for the rest of the donor's life, or includes other conditions in fulfilment of his wishes.
The conclusion of a simple agreement between the donor and the Museum, which takes into account the type of property that is to be handed over (cash sums, real estate, shares, etc.), can specify the manner in which it will be implemented. For instance, cash may be invested in assets that offer a tax-free income, real estate may be rented or sold, shares may be reinvested or retained (with the donor exercising his voting rights as before), or any combination of the above.
From the moment the agreement is concluded between the donor and the Museum, the former is no longer responsible for the day to day management of his property. In return, the Museum may pay the donor a set income for the rest of his life. Another type of agreement may provide, under special circumstances, for the return of part of the property to the donor or a third party (such as a spouse).
The Museum’s legal team is happy to be of assistance to prospective donors and their legal advisors by discussing their wishes with them, and suggesting alternative solutions.
The Museum will treat all information concerning a donation or the expressed wish to make a donation as confidential until the donor notifies the Museum that he agrees to the public acknowledgement of his gift.
If the donor so desires, his gift may be described as an "Anonymous Donation", either permanently or for a set period of time.
The donor or his legal advisor may announce his intention to make a donation to the President or the members of the Governing Council of the Museum, or to the Director or Legal Advisor of the Museum, all of whom are bound by the same rule of confidentiality.
The Honouring of Donors
All donors are recorded in the Book of Donations which is maintained by the Museum and available for consultation by all interested parties. A publication containing the names of donors, major donors and benefactors is issued periodically. The donations for each year are cited in the annual publication entitled "Mouseio Benaki".
A room or building of the Museum may be named after a donor if it was acquired or constructed in its entirety as the result of a gift, or if all or most of the objects in the room were donated by a single donor or his family.