ARTICLE: Providing for a Charity in Your Estate Plan

Providing for a Charity in Your Estate Plan

Providing for a charity in your estate plan is a noble way to leave a legacy and support causes that are important to you. Here are steps to consider when including a charitable component in your estate plan:

Identify Your Charitable Goals

Determine which charitable organizations or causes you want to support. Consider your values, passions, and the impact you want to make through your philanthropic efforts.

Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney

Seek the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you create or update your estate plan to include charitable giving. We can ensure that your intentions are legally sound and that your charitable goals are met.

Choose the Right Charitable Giving Vehicles

There are various ways to incorporate charitable giving into your estate plan. Common options include:

  • Bequests: Designate a specific dollar amount, a percentage of your estate, or specific assets in your will or living trust to go to the charity of your choice.
  • Charitable Remainder Trust: Create a trust that provides income to you or your beneficiaries for a specified period, with the remaining assets going to the charity at the end of the trust’s term.
  • Charitable Lead Trust: Establish a trust that provides income to a charity for a specified period, after which the remaining assets revert to your beneficiaries.
  • Donor-Advised Fund: Contribute to a donor-advised fund during your lifetime, allowing you to recommend grants to charities over time. These funds are typically managed by charitable organizations or financial institutions.
  • Charitable Gift Annuity: Donate assets to a charity in exchange for regular annuity payments for the rest of your life.
  • Life Insurance: Name a charitable organization as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, or donate a paid-up life insurance policy to a charity.
  • Retirement Account Assets: Designate a charitable organization as the beneficiary of your IRA, 401(k), or other retirement accounts.
  • Charitable Bequests in IRAs: Consider Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) if you’re 70½ or older, allowing you to make tax-free charitable contributions directly from your IRA.

Research and Vet Charities

Carefully research and select the charitable organizations that align with your values and goals. Ensure that they are reputable and effectively use donations for their intended purposes.

Consult with the Charity

Reach out to the charity to discuss your intentions and ensure they can accept your donation in the manner you intend. They can provide guidance on how to structure your gift for maximum impact.

Update Your Estate Plan

Work with your estate planning attorney to update your will, trust documents, or beneficiary designations to reflect your charitable intentions accurately.

Inform Your Family and Executor

Inform your family members and the executor of your estate about your charitable wishes. Discussing your intentions can help avoid surprises and ensure that your wishes are carried out.

Keep Records and Communicate

Maintain detailed records of your charitable contributions and communicate your philanthropic goals with your loved ones. This can inspire others to join you in supporting charitable causes.

Review and Update Regularly

Periodically review your estate plan and charitable giving strategy to ensure they align with your evolving goals and financial circumstances.

Including charitable giving in your estate plan allows you to make a meaningful impact on causes you care about while potentially providing tax benefits. Consulting with professionals and staying organized throughout the process will help ensure that your charitable goals are successfully integrated into your estate plan. If you would like to learn more about how to provide for a charity in your estate plan, we would be happy to schedule a meeting to discuss the opportunities. Call Roth Elder Law, PLLC at 607-962-6162 or complete this intake form and we will be in touch to schedule a meeting.


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We at Roth Elder Law, PLLC, believe in providing services in a way that clients can easily understand and meaningfully participate in designing and maintaining their estate plan for their loved ones, as well as be assured that their plan will be administered according to their wishes.