As an estate planning attorney, one of the things that I find most gratifying about my job is seeing how gracious and giving people can be to their favorite charities. Whether it is during their life or at death, it often amazes me and warms my heart to see these philanthropic endeavors being carried out.
What does surprise me is the drastic difference in the percentage of those that make gifts while they are alive versus those that leave bequests in their estate plans upon death. More than 85 percent of Americans donate to charities while they are alive, but less than 6 percent leave an estate plan that benefits these same charities, according to the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning.
I often wonder why there is such a disparity between giving to a charity while alive versus leaving something to them upon death . Do they feel that they do not have enough to leave to a charity, or enough to make that big of a difference? Fortunately, that is a mistaken belief. The private sector can make a huge impact on non-profits by leaving something to them in an estate plan, especially in an era of dwindling corporate support. Every dollar that is left, no matter how great or small, can help these mission driven non-profits accomplish their goals.
The following is an example of how easy it is to make a different. The Make-a-Wish Foundation helps countless children each year by fulfilling wishes. Many of these require travel. Did you know that you can leave your frequent flyer miles to Make-A-Wish Foundation? Those miles can be preserved by Make-A-Wish to help benefit many children’s lives for years to come. This is something that most of us don’t even think about, but it is something that any one of us with frequent flyer miles can do. It may not seem like something great, but I promise it will benefit a very worthwhile charity and change lives long after we are gone.
If you are philanthropically minded and give to charities now, make a choice to leave a lasting legacy by leaving something in your estate plan to those same charities upon your death. Every dollar counts whether it is given to them while you are alive or bequeathed to them upon your death.
Charitable donations can be planned for and included in your trust to leave a lasting legacy.
Contributed by MH Phoenix, Arrowhead and Scottsdale Estate Planning Attorney, David T. Eastman.
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This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.