The Many Benefits of Making Charitable Gifts Through Your Estate

Posted September 2021

Giving is a thoughtful gesture. Donors support their chosen charities with annual gifts, special occasion gifts, large gifts and pledges, and campaign gifts. Many of our friends and supporters also choose to make a gift to one or more charities through their estate plans. This type of gift can take several forms and can achieve a variety of goals. Charities welcome these gifts and want to recognize and thank donors.

Ways to make a gift through your estate
The most common way to make a gift in your estate is to include a gift in your will or trust. Some donors choose to give a specific dollar amount. "I give $10,000 to ABC Charity." Others choose to designate a percentage of the estate to charity. "I give 10% of my estate to ABC Charity." Another way is to make a contingent gift to charity. "If my spouse does not survive me, I give 50% of my estate to ABC Charity."

You may own assets such as IRAs and retirement plans, life insurance, bank and investment accounts, and other assets that may pass independently of a will. So there are additional ways to make a gift through your estate. Joint accounts and investment accounts can have "POD" (payable-on-death) designations. Beneficiary designations often govern who receives life insurance proceeds and retirement-plan assets.

Achieve goals through an estate gift
You can achieve a variety of goals through gifts in your estate. For example, some donors who are unable to establish a scholarship fund during life are able to do so in their wills. Others want to make "one last gift" to cap a lifetime of giving. Still others want to create a lasting legacy by establishing an endowed fund. Some donors have few family members surviving and want to be sure that select charities will be able to use the gift to fulfill their missions. All of these goals can be achieved through a well-worded gift in your estate.

A gift in your will can also memorialize a family member, honor a doctor or professor, or continue a lifetime legacy of giving. Some gifts can be structured to benefit family members for a period of years followed by a gift to charity. Donors can even make their first or largest gifts to charity through their estates.

Sharing plans with selected charities
Many donors share their plans to include gifts in their estates with their chosen charities. Whether or not you have a relationship with someone at the charities you will benefit, the charities appreciate being notified. This may be the only opportunity for someone at the charity to thank you for your (future) gift. In addition, some charities have legacy societies to recognize and thank donors for these gifts and keep donors in touch with the charity. Charities who are in active campaigns may be able to include these future gift amounts in the campaigns, which serves as encouragement to all donors to participate. And when asked, charities can keep donors' future gifts anonymous if desired.

We would be pleased to speak with you about making a gift through your estate.

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