Bea Arthur, the former Golden Girls star who died earlier this year, has left $300,000 to a shelter for gay homeless teenagers.

For years, she had been a generous benefactor to the Ali Forney Centre, which is a New York-based homeless LGBT charity.

Four years ago, the Tony Award-winning actress flew to New York for a benefit performance for the centre, raising more than $40,000. She told Next magazine the centre was saving lives.

The charity announced in August it would purchase a building with space for 12 teenagers and name it after her.

Executive director of the Ali Forney Centre, Carl Siciliano, said: “We work with hundreds of young people who are rejected by their families because of who they are.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude that Bea saw that LGBT youth deserve as much love and support as any other young person, and that she placed so much value in the work we do to protect them, and to help them rebuild their lives.”

The centre was set up in 2003 and is named after Ali Forney, a young homeless LGBT man who was murdered in 1997.