As you plan your estate, you may begin to wonder if it is time to include giving back to the charities you support. This is a different conversation for everyone depending on many factors such as the age of your children, where you are in life and your financial stability. If you are financially able to give back to charity then it is an excellent thing to do, but it is crucial that you make wise decisions while doing so.

Charitable planning is a way of supporting the charities you care about and ensuring that they will continue in the future. One question that many people ask us is, should I use a will or a trust for my charitable planning? The answer is different for each of us and, in many ways, depends on your estate planning goals.

When you use a last will and testament, your estate will go through the probate process at your death. Many people do not like the probate process as it can be lengthy and costly, together with being a public process. Cost and time considerations aside, you may not want others to know the size of the gift you left to charity or the charity you included in your estate plan.

By contrast, if you leave money to your charity through a trust agreement then your gift will be kept anonymous at your death. Trust-based planning, however, has other benefits as well. Your estate will not be subjected to the probate process which means that the charity will likely receive the money sooner with fewer complications. You may also plan for lifetime gifting by giving your trustee the authority to make gifts on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Further, there are specific types of charitable trusts that can benefit you with regard to income and estate taxes.

These are a few of the reasons why we do not see as many clients use will-based estate planning for charitable planning, as we do trust-based planning. If you are interested in charitable planning you should set a meeting with your estate planning attorney. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers for you. Contact our office to set a meeting to discuss charitable planning, answer your questions and develop the best charitable giving plan for you.