Charitable Giving

How Do I Incorporate Charitable Giving into My Estate Plan?

charitable giving
Charitable giving can be incorporated into your estate plan.

One approach frequently employed to give to charity, is to donate at the time of your death. Including charitable giving into an estate plan, is a great way to support a favorite charity.

Baltimore Voice’s recent article, “Estate planning and charitable giving,” notes that there are several ways to incorporate charitable giving into an estate plan.

Dictate giving in your will. When looking into charitable giving and estate planning, many people may start to feel intimidated by estate taxes, thinking that their family members won’t get as much of their money as they hoped. However, including a charitable contribution in your estate plan will decrease estate tax liabilities, which will help to maximize the final value of the estate for your family. Talk to an experienced estate attorney to be certain that your donations are set out correctly in your will.

Donate your retirement account. Another way to leverage your estate plan is to designate the charity of your choice as the beneficiary of your retirement account. Note that charities are exempt from both income and estate taxes. In choosing this option, you guarantee that your favorite charity will receive 100% of the account’s value when it’s liquidated.

A charitable trust. Charitable trusts are another way to give back through estate planning. There is what is known as a split-interest trust that lets you donate assets to a charity but retain some of the benefits of holding the assets. A split-interest trust funds a trust in the charity’s name. The person who opens one receives a tax deduction when money is transferred into the trust. However, the donors still control the assets in the trust, and it’s passed onto the charity at the time of their death. There are several options for charitable trusts, so speak to a qualified estate planning attorney to help you choose the best one for you.

Charitable giving is a component of many estate plans. Talk to one of our estate planning attorneys about your options and select the one that’s most beneficial to you, your family and the charities you want to support.

Reference: Baltimore Voice (January 27, 2019) “Estate planning and charitable giving”

Give the Gift of Estate Planning

As the Brainerd (MN) Dispatch reports in its story, “Give the gift of estate planning to loved ones this holiday season,” estate planning is a gift for your family in the form of peace of mind. By preparing for what will happen after you’re gone, you can eliminate the stress and guilt of having to guess at the type of funeral service you want, where you want your assets to go and how they can honor your memory.

When you pass away, your family will be dealing with stress, pain, and emotional hardships. If you fail to create a will or other legal documentation, the process for your family to access your assets will be long and expensive. The probate process is costly and can take many months before your assets are distributed to your spouse, children, and grandchildren. Proper estate planning can avoid the stressful probate process for your loved ones.

Without a will, there’s also no guarantee that your assets will pass as you intended. For example, if you have a stepchild you reared as your own or aren’t married but in a serious relationship when you die, then many states do not recognize that stepchild or your significant other. These individuals may not get any of your assets, because there’s no legal documentation linking them to your estate.

Lifetime giving is a great way to see the money you are donating goes to good use. There are also tax deductions that go along with these gifts. You may not consider charitable giving as a part of your estate plan right now but discussing how much and when to give with our estate planning attorneys, can decrease your taxable estate. That could result in more money for your family in the future.

If you do plan to leave a donation after you’re gone, there are several options to accomplish this. You can create a trust, scholarship fund, or donor-advised fund to leave a legacy of giving to the causes you support. Because there are so many options available, our estate planning attorneys are your best resource to help you decide which course of action will fit your circumstances and best meet your needs.

There are some decisions to make when preparing your estate plan. Nevertheless, the process shouldn’t be complicated or intimidating. Our estate planning attorneys take the time to learn about you and your situation. They will help you take the next step and navigate the planning, by asking the right questions and guiding you along the way. In the end, you will know that you’ve set yourself and your loved ones up for success.

Reference: Brainerd (MN) Dispatch (December 8, 2018) “Give the gift of estate planning to loved ones this holiday season”

Here’s a Happy Way to Start the New Year – A Gift of Estate Planning

If you think of estate planning as a gift to your loved ones, and not an obligation, then you will understand why the start of a new year is the perfect time to give your family the peace of mind that an estate plan can bring. The article “Give the gift of estate planning to loved ones this holiday season” from the Brainerd Dispatch describes how stress and guilt for the family can be alleviated just by having a good estate plan in place.

The gift of estate planning will provide your family with clear directions on where you want your assets to go when you have passed, but that’s just for starters. They will be dealing with many moving parts when you pass: funeral arrangements, notifying family members and grief, which can be overwhelming.

If you don’t have a will or trust or haven’t done any estate planning, the process for your family to gain access to your assets becomes extremely problematic. The process is called probate, and it can take months and cost a great deal to unlock real estate ownership, account information or other assets for your spouse, children and grandchildren.

There’s also no way to ensure that your assets will be distributed as you wanted, if you haven’t done any estate planning. Let’s say you have a non-traditional family. You’ve lived with your partner for decades, even raised children together, but never married. Your partner and your children may find themselves completely without any voice in your estate, and no right to any assets. Without a will or trust, the state’s laws will determine who receives your assets, and that may be a sibling or a parent, if still living.

Your estate plan becomes your legacy, and it’s not just for family members. If there are causes or organizations that have meaning for you, they can be included in your estate plan. Lifetime giving or giving “with warm hands” is rewarding, because you get to see the impact of your generosity. However, you can use an estate plan to make a gift to an organization, which serves a dual purpose. It decreases the value of your estate, and can lessen the tax burden of your estate, giving your family more money.

There are many ways to make planned giving part of your estate. Donor advised funds are increasingly popular, or you may want to use a charitable trust or fund a scholarship. Our estate planning attorneys will help you determine the best way to structure your giving.

Our experienced estate planning attorneys have worked with families of all different types and have the knowledge and skills to help you create an estate plan that works best for your family. Our attorneys encourage you to talk with your family members to make sure they know that you have put a plan into place. You may wish to involve your family members in your estate planning process with our attorneys. This ensures that everyone understands why you made the decisions you did and ensures that the family understands that your estate plan is a gift from the heart.

Reference: Brainerd Dispatch (Dec. 8, 2018) “Give the gift of estate planning to loved ones this holiday season”
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