Market Pulse: Leaving a charitable legacy (Opinion)
Planning for death usually isn’t high on our “to-do” list, and understandably so. But creating a will or trust will force us to face our own mortality.
Of course, there isn’t a known deadline so it’s easy to simply put it off … and put it off again. That’s why about half of adults over the age of 55 have a will that directs where their assets will go.
Estate planning is essential because it helps your beneficiaries and allows you to leave a legacy by supporting your favorite charities.
When considering where your money will go you’ll often get a deeper understanding of your values and what matters most to you. But when bequeathing money to a charity it’s important to do it right.
One must be specific about your planned gifts rather than leaving it up to your beneficiaries to “do the right thing.” They’ll be grieving and having them guess your favorite charities might lead to conflict.
A bequest is the most common way to leave a legacy gift. Here are the different types:
Specific Bequest – Designate the amount of money or specific asset (property, securities, etc.) you wish to donate.
Percentage Bequest – Designate the percentage of your estate you want distributed to a charity.
Residuary Bequest – After distributions are made to family, friends, etc. instruct that the remaining part of your estate be distributed to a charity.
Your attorney or online service will help with the language, but you will want to be very specific. For example, your will or trust should state: “I give and bequeath the sum of $___ (or ____% of my estate) to _____ charity.”
Leaving a legacy for a charity can help lower taxes, especially if it comes from an IRA or other qualified retirement plan. The beneficiary of an IRA will pay taxes on it unless it goes to a charity. To leave your IRA to a charity be sure to add the charity to the custodian’s beneficiary designation form.
If you are one of the 50% that doesn’t have a will then I encourage you to begin planning soon. If you have one then make sure it is up-to-date and that it is specific and leaves nothing to question. Your beneficiaries and your most important charities will appreciate it.
By the way, I’m an independent investment adviser, not an estate planner. Keep that in mind.
David Vomund is an Incline Village-based fee-only money manager. Information is found at http://www.VomundInvestments.com or by calling 775-832-8555. Clients hold the positions mentioned in this article. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Consult your financial advisor before purchasing any security.