When we begin creating our estate plan it makes many of us start to contemplate the legacy we want to leave behind. Our legacy can encompass what we will do with our assets, how we will protect our family and how we want to be remembered in the future. Although initially we may only think about our estate plan in the context of providing for the future of our children, spouse, business and future generations, this planning can also include providing for the charities and causes we support during our lives.

Many of my clients believe that they cannot plan for charities in their estate planning because they do not have enough wealth or are unsure of what their wealth will look like at the time they pass away. It is these same clients who give to churches, organizations and causes on a monthly basis. They also give in times of need; locally, across the nation and overseas when a catastrophe strikes.

The simple truth is that the same intent to help those in need can be carried over into your estate planning for charities, no matter what the size of your estate. Are you wondering if it is time to start adding charitable planning to your estate plan? Use these three questions we share with our clients to help you think about whether not it is the right time for you to get started.

1. Are there causes, organizations, churches or entities outside your home that you support on a monthly basis? If the answer is yes, what type of support do you offer? Is it guidance? Is it participation on a board or as part of a group? Is it financial? How would this group continue if something happened to you and you were unable to participate? What if you passed away?

2. Does the idea of supporting your charitable organization keep resurfacing in your mind? If this is the case, then it is time to find a way to put your thoughts into action. Work with your estate planning attorney to decide how best to support the charities you work with. Even if you do not know a specific amount you can give, your estate planning attorney can guide you on how to make a gift together with getting the information you need to have from the charity on how the gift should be made.

3. How do you want to be remembered? Many of us have charities we care about and want to see continue long after we are gone. If this is you, don’t wait to start thinking about charitable planning and your estate plan. Set a meeting now with your estate planning attorney to find a way to ensure what you care about continues on after you were no longer here.

It is never too early to think about adding a charity or charities to your estate plan. Keep in mind that planning for your charities does not have to be an action only taken at death through your last will and testament or your trust agreement. Instead, you can put the authority to support your charities during your lifetime into your durable power of attorney. Ready to get started? Give us a call at 607-962-6162 or contact us to set a meeting to talk about charitable planning and your estate.