I have had a number of clients who have no children or natural heirs, and have struggled with what to do with their estates after death. Others want to “mix it up,” giving some to their heirs, but not everything. An easy answer is a charity – a cause or organization which reflects or advances their values during their lifetime. Here are some ideas for those thinking along these lines to consider:
● Think About Whether the Organization Will Still Be Around. Like people, organizations “die” or cease to exist. They also merge or change in form. Consider this when giving to an organization, and the possibility that you may outlast it. One solution is to provide an alternative organization, or destination for the money. At the very least, consider having your estate planning attorney make it clear that the gift may be given to “any successor organization.”
● Give an Address. I sometimes place current addresses in some estate planning documents, especially when dealing with organizations. Consider doing this to help out your executor or trustee.
● Consider Giving “Shares” or Percentages. Percentages are self adjusting, in case you have less than expected in your estate upon death. Giving a percentage instead of a fixed sum could prevent “crowding out” those who receive a residuary gift in your estate (or trust). Another idea: Give a fixed sum, but not to exceed a specific percentage.
● Don’t Forget Lifetime Giving. If you can afford it and feel comfortable doing so, consider giving some or all of your overall gift during your lifetime. Expenses of charities are ongoing – if you make lifetime gifts, you might be able to see the fruit of your giving during life.