Charitable Estate Planning

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It’s never too late to include a charitable contribution to your favorite charitable organization even if you already have a Will.  A simple Codicil to your Will can be prepared by an attorney to make your gift effective upon your death.  A Codicil does not revoke your Will, but can add to, change or subtract from your existing Will. 


Some of the appealing reasons for making a charitable contribution include:


  • It is revocable by you during your lifetime, so you can always change your mind.
  • Since it is a future bequest, your current lifestyle is not affected.
  • Estate taxes can be avoided when assets are passed to charities.
  • You can spread your estate around so that both your family and your favorite charity benefit.


The following describe the types of gifts that you can make in your Codicil:


  • Specific Bequest: a donation of a particular dollar amount or a particular piece of property. 


  • Residuary Bequest: a donation of all or part of the assets remaining in your estate after all debts, expenses and specific bequests have been paid.  This is often identified by a percentage of your estate.


  • Contingent Bequest: a donation which takes effect upon the happening of an event such as if the primary beneficiary of the bequest predeceases you.


Practically any type of asset can be donated including marketable securities, real estate, cash, works of art, and jewelry, to name a few.  These outright gifts should result in a charitable deduction for federal estate taxes.  


Also, you will want to carefully identify the name of the charitable organization

and its address.  Your gift can be for the general support of the organization or you can provide restrictions on the use of the gift, but be sure to make alternate provisions in case your area of designated use no longer exists. 


Finally, you will want to make sure your Codicil is signed properly in the presence of two witnesses.  Because the way the Codicil is signed could have an effect on its validity, it is recommended that you meet with an attorney for assistance in drafting your Codicil.  The cost and time involved in preparing a Codicil is much less than the preparation of complete estate planning documents, so typically it is quite easy.

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