Frequently Asked Questions about estate plans with charitable intentions

Why make a bequest gift?
Many of our area’s charitable or nonprofit organizations will struggle to survive in the coming years without an increase in charitable gifts in wills or estate plans. Information from probate courts shows that only a small percentage of local wills leave any money to charity.

How large does a bequest have to be?
While some gifts may be large, many are small. Regardless of size, all gifts are important and will make a difference in the lives that follow.

Where do I begin?
Together with your financial advisor(s), begin gathering information to determine the best approach for making your planned gift. Making a bequest in your will or estate plans can be as easy as including a bequest in your will or changing the beneficiary of an IRA or life insurance policy. It is important, however, that you consult your legal and/or financial advisor when making planned giving decisions.

Are bequests always given in the form of money?
Bequests may come in the form of money, property, an investment, or a percentage of an estate. Tax benefits often accompany a gift from a will or estate.

Do I have to include my wish to leave a gift to a specific organization in my will?
To be certain that the organization receives the gift, you should state your intentions in your will. Without a will, your property and finances are settled in probate court according to state laws, regardless of your personal wishes.

Do I tell the charity that I’ve left them a bequest?
This is up to you to decide. Charities and other nonprofits like to know in advance so they can recognize your generosity and make certain that they will be able to accommodate your wishes.  And by sharing the story of your generosity, your gift undoubtedly will inspire others.

How do I leave a gift in memory of a person or for a specific purpose?
A bequest is a great way to honor someone who has made a difference in your life. You may also want to give to a specific cause like research or a building project. These kinds of gifts can be arranged through your will. You just need to make it clear that the gift is given in memory of a particular person or for a specific use.

What are some other important tips about making a charitable planned gift?

Find an attorney and/or financial advisor who will best represent you and your commitment to planned giving.
Talk to a variety of specialists, including your attorney, financial advisor, and development professional at your favorite charitable organizations. Learn as much as you can about various planned giving options and the kinds of gifts that make the most sense for you and your favorite organizations.

Encourage dialogue between your favorite organizations and your attorney and/or financial advisor to ensure that your intentions are understood and put into action.  Teamwork and collaboration among you, your trusted advisors and the charities you wish to benefit will ensure that you have the best plan in place to achieve all of your personal, financial and charitable goals.

(None of this information should be construed as legal advice. When making a planned gift, always seek the advice of your attorney and/or financial advisor.)