Charitable giving can be a fulfilling and meaningful way to make a positive impact on the world. Estate planning provides a valuable opportunity to incorporate charitable giving into your long-term financial and legacy plans. Here are several steps to make charitable giving part of your estate plan:
- Determine your charitable goals: Before you begin, it’s important to consider what causes you are most passionate about and what you hope to achieve through your charitable giving.
- Consider your estate plan: Take a comprehensive look at your current estate plan, including your will, trust, and other financial planning documents, to determine how charitable giving fits into your overall financial strategy. Remember that a good estate plan passes values as much as it passes money and property. Let your family know those causes that are important to you by including them in your estate planning.
- Choose a charity: Select a charity that aligns with your values and goals and conduct research to ensure it is reputable and efficient in using its resources. Online services such as GuideStar offer a lot of information on charitable organizations.
- Decide on the type of gift: There are many ways to make a charitable gift, including bequests, charitable trusts, and gifts of appreciated assets. Consider which option is best for your goals and financial situation.
- Consult a professional: Estate planning and charitable giving can be complex, so it’s important to consult with a financial advisor, attorney, or other professional who can help you make informed decisions.
- Update your estate plan: Once you have decided on the type of gift you want to make, be sure to update your estate plan to reflect your charitable intentions.
- Communicate your intentions: Let your loved ones and chosen charity know about your plans for charitable giving in your estate plan. This can help ensure that your wishes are fulfilled and can help the charity plan for the future.
Benefits of Charitable Giving
First, by including charitable donations in your estate plan, you ensure your wealth supports initiatives or organizations that matter to you, even after you die. By donating, you make a lasting impact on the causes you support. This legacy can continue for generations.
Second, when you bequeath assets to a charitable organization, it directly diminishes the value of your taxable estate. This can lead to significant tax savings. Also, some charitable giving mechanisms, like the Charitable Remainder Trust, not only benefit your estate but can also offer immediate income tax deductions.
Third, including a charity in your estate plan offers flexibility. For example, charitable trusts can provide income to your children before the remaining assets go to a charitable organization. Used in this way, a charitable trust can benefit both the charity and your family.
Lastly, your decision to give sets a positive example for others. The good you do matters, and by including charitable gifts in your estate plan you can encourage others to do the same.
An Example of the Importance of Charitable Giving: Jane’s Legacy
Janet loved animals. Throughout her life, she supported local animal shelters, adopting pets and volunteering her time. As she drafted her estate plan, Janet decided she wanted to make a lasting impact on the animal community she cherished so deeply.
She consulted with her estate planner, who advised her on the best methods for charitable giving. Janet then allocated a portion of her estate to the local animal shelter. This allocation would directly reduce her taxable estate’s value, offering a significant tax break.
In addition, she established a charitable remainder trust. The income from this trust would support her daughter, Emma, for 20 years. After this period, the remainder of the trust would go to a national organization for animal welfare.
Janet also involved Emma in the decision-making process. They together chose a third organization dedicated to wildlife conservation and decided to donate a percentage of the estate to it.
After Janet passed away, her contributions not only supported her beloved causes but also set an example. Inspired by her mother’s legacy, Emma started her own tradition of annual donations to various animal welfare organizations.
Through her thoughtful estate planning, Janet not only ensured her assets went where she intended, but she also continued her life’s passion of supporting animals, inspiring future generations to do the same.
By incorporating charitable giving into your estate plan, you can make a lasting impact on the causes you care about and leave a positive legacy for future generations. With the help of a professional, you can ensure that your charitable gifts are structured in a way that maximizes their impact and meets your overall financial and estate planning goals. To learn more about how best to include a charitable gift in your estate plan, contact us today.