Legacy and planned giving are not just about bequeathing assets; they're about making a lasting impact on the causes and organizations you hold dear. These charitable strategies allow you to extend your philanthropic footprint beyond your lifetime, ensuring that your values and support continue to shape the world. In this blog post, we'll explore the significance of legacy and planned giving, the different avenues for leaving a lasting legacy, and the practical steps involved in this impactful form of philanthropy.
Understanding Legacy and Planned Giving
Legacy and planned giving involve making intentional decisions about your charitable contributions and estate planning to create a meaningful and enduring impact. These giving strategies typically extend beyond regular charitable donations and focus on ways to support causes, organizations, or communities well into the future. Let’s start out by understanding what legacy giving and planned giving are. Legacy giving is the act of making provisions in your will or estate plan to support charitable causes, organizations, or foundations after your lifetime. This may involve bequeathing a specific amount or percentage of your assets to charity. Planned giving encompasses a broader range of strategies to make charitable contributions during your lifetime and beyond. It often includes gifting assets, creating charitable trusts, or designating beneficiaries for insurance policies or retirement accounts.
The Power of Legacy and Planned Giving
Legacy and planned giving offer multiple benefits, both for donors and the organizations they support:
Legacy and planned gifts ensure that your support continues to benefit your chosen causes or organizations long after you're gone. This creates a lasting impact on the issues and communities that matter to you.
Many legacy and planned giving strategies come with tax incentives that can reduce your estate's tax liability, making it a tax-efficient way to support charitable causes.
Legacy giving allows you to leave a meaningful and lasting mark on the world, aligning your personal values with your philanthropic goals.
Recognition and Honoring Loved Ones
Legacy gifts can be a way to honor your loved ones, carrying on their memory through the support of causes or organizations they cared about.
Planned giving allows you to strategically allocate your assets to maximize the impact on causes and organizations you believe in.
Avenues for Legacy and Planned Giving
There are numerous avenues through which you can engage in legacy and planned giving to create a lasting impact. Bequests are one of the most straightforward forms of legacy giving. You include specific language in your will or living trust that designates a portion of your assets or a specific dollar amount to be gifted to a charitable organization or cause. This gift is distributed after your passing. Another way to give is to use charitable gift annuities. These annuities allow you to donate assets (typically cash or securities) to a charitable organization in exchange for a fixed income stream for life. Upon your passing, the remaining amount goes to support the charity. Another option is to use charitable remainder trusts, which are irrevocable trusts that provide income to the donor or their beneficiaries for a specified term or for life. After the trust term ends, the remaining assets are distributed to the designated charitable organizations. One of the more efficient giving vehicles to utilize is a Donor Advised Fund (DAF). DAFs allow you to create an account in your name with a sponsoring organization. You contribute assets to the account and make grant recommendations to support your chosen charitable organizations. DAFs can serve as a tool for ongoing and flexible philanthropy. Another trust strategy is charitable lead trust. Charitable lead trusts are the reverse of charitable remainder trusts. They provide an income stream to a charitable organization for a specified term, after which the remaining assets go to your heirs or beneficiaries. You can also leave assets directly to charity by setting up a charity as a beneficiary on a retirement account (e.g., IRAs or 401(k)s). After your passing, the organization will receive the designated amount tax-free. Similarly, you can name a charitable organization as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, and the proceeds will go to the organization upon your passing. This allows you to support a cause without affecting your assets during your lifetime.
Create a Legacy and Planned Giving Plan
Because of the power of legacy and planned giving, it often makes sense to at least consider it as part of your broader estate plan. If you do, you should create a legacy and giving plan that can be implemented to see these charitable goals through. Last week, our blog post went into detail on how to create a giving plan. To re-cap, creating a legacy and planned giving plan involves several important steps:
- Define Your Values and Philanthropic Interests
Identify the causes, organizations, or issues that resonate with your values and priorities. Consider what impact you want to make in the world.
- Assess Your Financial Situation
Review your financial assets, including savings, investments, real estate, and retirement accounts, to determine what you can allocate to legacy and planned giving.
- Consult Professionals
Engage with professionals like estate attorneys, financial advisors, and tax experts who can help you navigate the legal and financial aspects of legacy and planned giving.
- Choose the Right Giving Strategy
Select the giving strategy that aligns with your goals, whether it's bequests, charitable gift annuities, charitable trusts, donor-advised funds, or other methods.
- Communicate Your Wishes
Clearly communicate your philanthropic intentions with your chosen charitable organizations. It's important to ensure that your legacy giving plans are in line with their mission and objectives.
- Review and Update
Regularly review your legacy and planned giving plan to ensure it remains aligned with your values and financial situation. Update it as needed based on life changes or shifts in your priorities.
Legacy and planned giving represent a unique opportunity to make a lasting impact on the world while achieving personal fulfillment and financial benefits. By crafting a well-thought-out philanthropic plan, you can create a legacy that reflects your values, supports the causes you're passionate about, and leaves a lasting mark on the world. Through the power of legacy and planned giving, you can build a brighter future for generations to come.
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