As you contemplate the planning of your estate, you may be like a good many people and have an interest in leaving money to charitable organization after you pass on. You may have questions about how you can accomplish giving money to charity when you die. Indeed, there are a number of factors you need to bear in mind when it comes to the decision to leave money to a charity as part of your estate planning process.
Gift to a Charity in Your Last Will and Testament
You can leave money to a charity through a last will and testament. The reality is that you can gift money to a charity in your will in much the same way you bequest money to an individual, to a family member or friend.
When gifting money in a will to a charitable organization, you are wise to include detailed information about the gift. In other words, you should consider doing a bit more than just listing the name of an organization and an amount of money or item of property. You want to ensure that there is no confusion about the desired bequest to a charity. You want to eliminate anything that might give rise to an heir contesting the gift. (The reality is that bequest in wills to charities do end up being challenged by family members and heirs who have a vested interest in a particular estate.)
In making a bequest to a charity, include the full legal name of the organization. Include the principle address of the entity as an additional means of ensuring that it is properly identified. You might also want to make a brief statement regarding why you want the charity to obtain a gift from your estate. This provides yet another indication of your sincere intent to give money to a specific charity.
Name a Charity Beneficiary of a Trust
Another option available to you is to name a charitable organization as a beneficiary of a trust. If part of your estate planning efforts is to take advantage of a trust, you can include a particular charity as a beneficiary. This can be accomplished in the same manner that you name a person as a beneficiary of your trust.
There are different types of trusts that are available to you when it comes to estate planning. One type of trust can be funded during your lifetime. In other words, you can create a trust today that holds assets and can give money to beneficiaries even while you are living. A charity can be a beneficiary of this type of trust.
Another type of trust is one that doesn’t fully come into effect until you pass away. Upon your death, the trust is funded with your assets. As with a trust that goes into effect while you are alive, a charity can be a beneficiary of this type of trust as well.
If you name a charity as a beneficiary of your trust, you can elect to have a one-time payment made to the organization through the trust. In the alternative, you can provide the charity with ongoing payments from the trust on a scheduled, recurring basis. You can leave these types of payments open-ended, with no specific termination date. In the alternative, you can cap this type of arrangement for the benefit of a charity at a specific total dollar amount. You can also set a timeframe in which these payments will occur, with an ultimate date when a final payment will be made to a charity.
Alternative or Successor Beneficiary
The possibility exists that a particular charity may not be in existence at the time of your death. In the alternative, if a charity is to receive payments from a trust over time, it is also possible that it will cease to operate during that time period. Thus, when you designate a trust to benefit from your will or a trust, you will want to identify a successor organization if the original one ceases to operate or exist.
If no such successor is named, money intended for a specific organization in a will is passed to other heirs via what is known as the residuary clause. In the case of a trust, money intended for a charity that no longer operates or exists is divided between other beneficiaries.
In order to make certain that a will or trust is drafted to appropriately to convey money or other assets to a charity you should consider seriously retaining the services of an experienced estate planning attorney. An attorney with a background in estate and probate law can assist you in creating the most appropriate vehicle to ensure that your charitable giving objectives are satisfied as part of your overall estate planning efforts.