Including Charitable Gifts in Your Estate Plan

Estate planning allows testators to help provide for the future needs of their family members, while also reinforcing the legacy they are leaving behind. When it comes to the latter, charitable giving is a way testators can highlight their values and passions even after they are gone. However, there are several ways to include charitable gifts in an estate plan and each comes with its own advantages. If you have decided to engage in the estate planning process and have questions about the best way to leave some of your property to a particular charitable organization, please reach out to attorney Alan G. Orlowsky who can evaluate your case and explain your legal options.

Choosing a Charitable Cause

The first step in the process of including charitable gifts in an estate plan is to decide which cause or set of causes holds the most meaning for the testator and his/her family. Those who have a history of charitable giving may want to review their past donations for help in making this determination. Assessing certain questions can also help testators narrow their focus and direct their charitable efforts, including:

● What issues in the community concern them the most;
● What types of concerns they have for future generations; and
● How they wish to be remembered.

These types of questions can serve as a helpful jumping off point when it comes to identifying values and priorities, all of which can be used to help testators decide what they want to achieve with their estate plan bequests.

Selecting Assets

Once a person’s philanthropic goals have been determined, he/she can start assessing which assets they want to donate, either now or in the future. Cash donations are usually universally accepted by all charitable organizations, but many also accept other types of assets, such as stock options, privately held securities, real estate, and even personal possessions like artwork. Donating valuable assets to charity can also help testators take advantage of substantial tax savings.

Determining How to Make the Gift

The last step in making a charitable gift is to determine how the bequest will be made. For instance, many testators choose to leave charitable gifts in their wills, while others establish charitable lead trusts, charitable remainder trusts, and private foundations, all of which are effective ways to give, while also minimizing costs like transfer taxes. Ultimately, the type of bequest a person makes will depend on his/her specific circumstances, making it especially important for those who are considering including a charitable gift in their estate plans, to speak with an attorney before moving forward.

Call Today for Help Planning Your Estate

If you have philanthropic goals that you want to incorporate into your estate plan, you should start by talking with an experienced Chicagoland charitable giving and foundations lawyer who can help you come up with a plan that is in your best interests. Please call Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. Attorneys at Law at 847-325-5559 today to learn more about how our legal team can help with your own estate plan.

Updated as of July 2019
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