Leaving a legacy to make a difference

15 September, 2017

In Australia, it has been recorded that approximately 87% of people support charities in their lifetime while only around 7.5% leave a gift in their Will. If this amount went up by only 12%, charities would receive a massive $440 million extra per annum.

Currently MS Research Australia receives, on average, about 5% of its total yearly income in bequests. In the UK, the percentage of bequests rose from 12% in 2007 to 17% in 2014. This was achieved through the concerted effort of the sector to raise awareness of significant difference a gift in a Will can provide. One of the ways they did this was by encouraging people who are leaving bequests to charities to speak out and share their reasoning.  MS Research Australia’s Chairman Paul Murnane, has decided to do the same.

Former investment banker, now corporate advisor and  MS advocate, Paul has seen firsthand the desperate need for medical research funding here in Australia after his wife Annie was diagnosed with MS in 1996.

Since the diagnosis Paul and his wife have speculated that her first MS attack actually happened in her early teens. This was followed by more relapses through her adulthood, including one when she was backpacking in Europe and ended up becoming nearly blind for three days. Alarmed by this she went to see some of the best doctors in London, who dismissed her symptoms as products of home sickness and prescribed her with Valium. Ten years later when Annie and Paul were living in New York, Annie started experiencing double vision, chronic fatigue,  and mobility symptoms. Annie then experienced another scare shortly before the birth of their first child where she was misdiagnosed with a suspected brain tumour. 32 years later, Annie was finally diagnosed with MS in Sydney, which according to Paul, was not uncommon amount of time to be diagnosed back then.

Paul said that “Over the last 30 years  the landscape of MS has completely changed, ‘people are now being diagnosed far quicker, there are better and more treatments available for the most common form of MS to manage symptoms, the overall quality of life for people living with MS is much better, as well as a universal increase in hope for a cure within our lifetime’, which he credits to the fantastic MS research that has been done.

Paul and Annie, along with their two adult daughters, are all in favour of leaving a bequest in their Will to MS Research Australia. Paul believes that medical research is a natural and obvious choice when choosing whether to leave a bequest. It’s an obvious way to make a tangible difference to the world after you are gone. Paul said “There have been many great examples where Institutions, buildings and research discoveries have originated from a precious gift left in a Will to medical research.

This September, MS Research Australia will once again be working with the Include a Charity campaign to highlight the importance of bequests, particularly how they can play a large role in the support and funding of medical research. Leaving a bequest to MS Research Australia, however large or small, will help allow us support Australia’s leading MS researchers find better treatments, prevention and ultimately a cure for MS. Without research, this goal is simply not possible.

For further information please call Neil Robertson, Relationship and Planned Giving Coordinator on 1300 356 457 or visit https://msra.org.au/ways-to-donate/gifts-in-wills/

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