Why not include charitable bequest in estate plan? (Part 1)

According to a number of surveys, about 60% of Americans give to charity annually. However, less than 10% of wills and estate plans include a charitable bequest. Here are some common reasons people may have for not including a charitable bequest in their estate plan as well as why making this a part of your estate plan may still be worthwhile:

I give annually. If you already give to charitable organizations annually, that is excellent. Regular giving keeps the doors of these organizations open. That being said, a charitable bequest can ensure that your support of this organization continues even after you’re gone.

I don’t want publicity. Although most nonprofits publish legacy donors to say thank you and to inspire others to do the same, you can let the charity know that you want to remain anonymous if you do not wish to draw attention to your generosity.

I’m too young for a legacy gift. No matter what age you are, it is never too soon to plan ahead. Anyone can identify which causes and organizations align with their values and that they may wish to support with their assets after they are gone. This is something that you can always change later if you wish.

I will need a lawyer. Although it is still highly advisable to work with an attorney to create your comprehensive estate plan, there are a number of options for your legacy gift that do not require an attorney. You could name the nonprofit of your choice as a beneficiary of a portion of your retirement fund, brokerage account, or life insurance policy. Often, you can do this online or by signing a form, and you can revise these designations later if you choose.

I won’t get to decide what happens to my gift. Although nonprofits usually need general funding most, you can stipulate how the organization uses your bequest. You could state, for example, that you want your gift to be used to support a particular program or establish a designated fund. Nonprofit organizations have ethical and legal obligations to honor the intent of the donor.

Next week, I will write about more common reasons people may have for not including a charitable bequest in their estate plan.

For help with your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.