What To Know If Charitable Giving Is Part Of Your Estate Plan


Giving to charity is a priority for many people across Minnesota and Wisconsin, whether people contribute for financial, medical, religious, or social reasons. And no matter the motivation or how much time or money someone donates to these causes, it can be crucial that people assure their contributions are actually going to the right place.

This certainly holds true when it comes to including charitable giving in an estate plan. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your valuable gifts go where you want them to go.

Identify the recipient

You may have an organization you’ve been dedicated to for years, and you plan to leave a gift to that group. Or, you might be giving a gift for the first time. In either case, make sure you do some research on the organization(s).

Are they legitimate? What gifts can they accept? Are you identifying them by their official corporate name? Do they have the capacity to accept property, or must donations come in the form of cash? Will you receive anything in exchange for certain sizes or types of donations? Each of these questions can help you make important decisions about what to give, and whether to gift to a specific organization.

Examine your options

Gifts people leave to charity can vary widely. Some people donate cash, others give valuable or meaningful property. And there are numerous options when it comes to how you can make a contribution.

As this Forbes article describes, you might give gifts in your lifetime or you might name a charity as a beneficiary of your estate. You could also set up a charitable trust. There are benefits and drawbacks to each option, so it is important to examine each possibility carefully.

Protect your wishes

Discussing your philanthropic goals with your loved ones can be a good way to ensure they understand your intentions.

However, you should also detail your gifts and wishes in a valid, updated estate plan. Unless you do this, parties can wind up fighting over the property or money you had hoped would bring happiness to the recipient. And taking these steps sooner rather than later can allow you to make changes or adjust your wishes if necessary.