Leaving a charitable legacy could make estate planning fun

If you don’t already have an estate plan, it may be because the process is a bit daunting. You may already know who you want to leave your home and assets to, and the estate planning process sounds like just a boring process of putting that plan in place. Or maybe you just don’t want to contemplate the inevitable.

But what if you had the chance to make a real difference in the world? Depending on your circumstances, you could make a substantial donation to a charity as part of your estate plan. Moreover, your gift could result in special recognition by your charity.

Your will and estate plan are a way to make your values concrete. You don’t have to leave everything to your spouse and children, especially if they have lives of their own. Wouldn’t it be great to make a bequest that could continue to manifest your values after your death?

Americans are behind on their estate planning

According to one estimate, only about 54% of Americans over 55 have a will. Furthermore, less than 30% of Americans overall have an up-to-date will. What’s keeping people from making plans that will save their loved ones so much trouble in the event that they die unexpectedly?

How much can you afford to give?

Depending on what you’re giving, it could be a surprising amount. A study by the IRS found that the typical bequest in a will is almost three times the size of the total amount that person donated during their lifetime. This could have an enormous impact on your charity of choice, such as a school, house of worship or giving organization.

Find out if your charity has a legacy society

Even if you only have a few thousand to give, you could even receive benefits that you can enjoy now. Many charities have legacy societies to offer recognition to people who have left bequests in their wills or estate plans. You could be invited to all the special events and, in many cases, become part of a group of people who share your values.

Unsure of which charity to choose?

If you don’t have a charity in mind, you can find one online or by soliciting suggestions from friends and family. Choose an area of interest, then use the internet to find charities that are acting in that area.

One you’ve identified a few possibilities, check their finances and reputation on Charity Navigator or Guidestar, which can each help you determine if your money will be well spent.

Get your legacy started today. Get excited about it and call an estate planning lawyer right away.

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