What does charitable planning mean for your overall estate plan? Did you know celebrities such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet aren’t leaving their fortunes to their children? Who may they be leaving most of their estate to? Charity!

The reason why? People love to give! With 1.5 million charities in the United States, people can give back to things that they believe in, support and know are necessary in their local community and throughout the nation, and even overseas. When it comes to your estate planning, will you create a legacy at your death by providing for your favorite charity?

There are many ways to create a charitable legacy through your estate plan. Let’s discuss two keys ways you can leave money to charity in your trust agreement. Specifically, we will address residuary and specific legacies.

What do each of these planning tools mean to you? When you’re leaving a residuary legacy to your charity this means you are taking the remaining value of your estate at death after distributions have been made and then leaving the balance of that amount to your charity. Using the residuary planning tools allows your legacy to have more flexibility because the amount changes with the size of your estate and is not bound to a number that may not be accurate at death. This type of clause may also serve as the final beneficiary function or the entity that should inherit if none of your other beneficiaries survive you.

When you get into specific legacies, you will define the exact amount you want to be left to the charity. This does not have to be an actual cash account but can instead include land, shares, and valuable items. A downside to leaving specific legacies is the fact that your property or valuable could not belong to you when it’s time to pass along the gift to your charity.

Earlier on this article, we specifically mentioned the trust agreement as your estate planning tool to create this legacy. You should consider a trust agreement for three reasons. First, it is a private document. Unlike a last will and testament which can become public record at your death, the terms of your trust remain private. Second, a trust allows you to avoid probate and the costs and timelines associated with it. Third, it is an estate planning tool that allows you to control the distribution and even monitor the charity’s use of your legacy well into the future.

Once you decide which legacy you would like to use, take the time to talk to your charity about including them in your estate. Often, people request that their gifts be used for specific things and specific purposes. It is important to talk to your charity and your estate planning attorney to make sure your goals can be accomplished to create the legacy you want. Ready to discuss the estate planning you need? Call us (607) 962-6261 at or contact us through our website to schedule a meeting with Attorney Patrick Roth.