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Beacon Senior News

The estate planning and legacy giving disconnect

Feb 28, 2018 08:33PM ● By Guest

By Scott Claeys, HopeWest

Many of us make an annual donation to at least one charity, even more of us volunteer, and most of us will help a stranger. But did you know only 8 percent of people include a charitable gift in their estate plans and only 40 percent have a valid and legal last will? These numbers surprise me not only because of the importance of estate planning, but also the immense benefits this planning will bring to your family, friends and the organizations and causes you care about.

Many people think of estate planning as another difficult conversation about death and taxes. The reality is with just a little planning it can be profoundly liberating. Think of it as an expression of your values. What opportunities do you want for your family, friends and the causes that are important to you? When you plan well, your family can celebrate your life and legacy.

Most of us do not refer to ourselves as philanthropists or even think we have an “estate.” But the truth is, if you volunteer or make any contributions big or small to causes you believe in, that makes almost all of us philanthropists. It’s not the size of the gift, but rather, the spirit behind the gift that makes it philanthropy. An estate is everything we own. It’s easy to overlook that many of your assets are not directed by your last will. This includes individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and life insurance accounts that can be passed to beneficiaries outside of your will and outside of the probate court.

A crucial point is that transfers of an IRA to an individual that is not your spouse are subject to income tax, whereas if the charity is named as the beneficiary, 100 percent of the IRA will go to the charity tax free.

So when you’re considering your estate plan, I encourage you to remember the organizations that have served you or you hope will continue to serve your loved ones and community. Consider the community one of your heirs.

For more information on legacy giving or to receive a free copy of the HopeWest Wills Guide, contact Scott Claeys at 255-7219 or [email protected].