Did you know that in 2010, Americans gave close to $300 billion in their charitable efforts? This, according to Giving USA, is indicative of the giving nature most of us can identify with, even during a tough recession.
Further, trends suggest that more Americans are making their philanthropic efforts a priority and they’re ensuring their efforts become part of their overall estate planning efforts.
In another study, this time from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, it’s revealed that more than 46 percent of affluent households have at least one specific charitable provision as part of their estate plan. Even better, that number’s expected to increase in the coming years as more begin to recognize the power in caring for others and as the economic recovery efforts begin to finally ease fears for the future.
As estate planning lawyers, we provide our clients with the tools necessary for making solid charitable decisions. With proper planning, you can provide a philanthropic gift that continues to give over the course of time – decades, even. The legacy you leave is priceless and the benefits for those who receive your gifts have the potential to forever change their lives.
One of the first questions we ask clients is what their goals are and what they want their gifts to achieve. Ideally, we encourage provisions that ensure flexibility for the recipients. After all, lives change, charities shift and research endeavors are costly. By keeping some realistic flexibility in your plans, you’re allowing better options for those you help – whether it’s a new research project for a disease breakthrough or providing scholarships for those in low income communities.
While there aren’t always considerable compliance stipulations in a philanthropic gift, you do have the benefit of defining the parameters in how the gifts will be used. We do remind our clients to consider the long term repercussions.
We’ll also compile the proper legal documents, based on your wishes, for any donor. These contracts spell out in great detail the motivation for the trust, what you hope to accomplish and anything else you feel is important and needs to be memorialized.
You know best in terms of how you approach your heirs to let them know about your charitable decisions. Some clients make no mention of the gifts while they’re alive, and instead, allow the family to discover for themselves at the time of the will being read. Again, every client has their reasons for their decisions, whatever they may be, but it is something you’ll need to address. Remember, too, if your family and loved ones have no idea of your giving plan, there’s a possibility that they’ll have those unanswered questions forever.
Interestingly enough, people tend to contribute far more to charities right before they retire. It’s important to consider how, if at all, your generosity will affect your personal goals. When we’re younger, we’re far more likely to give smaller and even more random contributions. The older we get, the more likely we begin to see philanthropy as an important element of a life well-lived.
Estate Planning in Essex Junction Advice and Guidance
If you wish to learn more about how philanthropy can be one of the most fulfilling decisions in your life, we invite you to contact our office today. We’ve guided many clients over the years in their estate planning efforts of simply “doing good” through charity. We’re certain we can provide the same for you.