Recent research shows that 89 percent of gifts in estate plans are charitable bequests. In fact, a charitable bequest is an ideal way to fulfill a lifetime of charitable giving for your favorite charity, church, alma mater, or other cause. Whether you have a Will or a Trust for your estate plans, a charitable bequest is the #1 way to make a testamentary gift. If you have already included a charitable bequest in your estate plans, you have ensured your legacy gift will make a difference for years to come. If your intention is to create an endowment by your bequest, your support will help in perpetuity. If you have not yet made arrangements for a charitable bequest, it’s relatively easy – and you don’t need to create a new Will or Trust – a Codicil (for your Will) or an Amendment (for your Trust) is sufficient.
It’s important to check with your favorite charity, college, or church about the exact language you should use for your charitable bequest – to be sure what you want to do will be done. The key thing is to ask your lawyer to prepare the provision for your charitable bequest so you can sign the documents promptly and then rest easy in the knowledge that your desire to make a testamentary gift will be fulfilled according to your wishes.
And, in most cases, your charitable beneficiary will recognize your generosity in a special way. For example, your alma mater likely has a Legacy Society to recognize everyone who remembers the institution in their financial & estate plans. Typically, members of Legacy Societies gather at reunions and other special events. Hospitals, churches, and other charities also honor donors of testamentary gifts in similar ways. Of course, if you prefer to let the charity know of your plans but otherwise keep the matter confidential, you can be sure your charitable beneficiary will respect your request for privacy.
Things like college tuition bills, mortgage payments, health care costs, and retirement savings sometimes make it difficult to do what we want to do for the charitable organizations we support during our lives. A charitable bequest offers a way to make the gift of a lifetime at a time when doing so at last may be possible. You don’t have to be a Vanderbilt or a Carnegie to make a difference; every charitable bequest touches the lives of others in special ways.