Navigating the transition into retirement can be difficult because so many things change! From where you live to how you spend your time to planning for your future, your life is seen from a new vantage point. A topic I see many retirees struggle with is incorporating their charitable efforts into their estate plans.
Your charitable ambitions have helped guide your life from the organizations you support to all of the wonderful relationships you have sustained along the way and your passion for giving can also shine through as you plan for your legacy.
Let’s explore a few simple action items that you can do to help make your legacy a charitable-focused one.
1. Understand your charitable goals
Your goals are the bedrock for your financial strategy—they inspire your decisions and motivate you to give your life a purpose. So many people find fulfillment and greater meaning in life through the charitable efforts they support through both using their time and financial resources. For you, this effort could be focused on your church community, one where you nurture the financial as well as relational components, a place where you develop a community.
Since your community has been so instrumental throughout your life, it only makes sense that you wish to build-in that continued support into your legacy. The first step is understanding what your charitable goals are. Let’s start with a simple question:
What does a charitable legacy look like to you?
This is a question that only you can answer and it will look different for everyone. For you, it may be that you want to donate a percentage of your estate to your church or charity or perhaps you want to set up a scholarship fund for kids in your community with similar charitable drives as you, or you might even want to set up your own charity or foundation. No matter your goal, start by defining it and working through what your ideal situation would be.
With prudent planning and adequate savings, you will be able to incorporate the things that matter most to you in your legacy. Because, after all, your legacy is yours. It should be specific to you and your goals and dreams for the future.
If you are struggling to think through how this could take shape, take a step back and evaluate your current charitable efforts. What are you doing now? Is there a way that you can use your current work and build it into part of your legacy? Who can help you attain that?
It will be more helpful for you to create a plan when you have a clear understanding of your goals.
2. Amend your estate plan
Your estate plan comprises of so many documents that outline the plan for your assets. When you are looking to include charitable efforts into your legacy, it is important to focus on the documents that can help you achieve that goal.
Once you understand your goals, you will be able to work through the best strategy to implement those goals. That will also help determine the type of assets that will best serve your goals whether that be cash, assets, real estate, or other possessions such as fine art or antiques.
You can make this happen by stipulating these wishes in your will. Keep in mind though that your will most likely will need to go through probate, a legal process of authenticating a will and ensuring all assets are distributed properly, which can trigger additional taxes and expenses. There are other vehicles for supporting charitable efforts in your estate plan including a charitable gift annuity, donor-advised fund, family foundation, and appreciated assets. Not every option will be the right fit for you, but with the help of your financial and legal team, you will be able to create an estate plan that is as generous as you.
Estate plans aren’t set in stone. You can alter them as you go along and make edits if a significant change occurs in your life. Estate planning is a process and one that is custom to your goals, values, and priorities.
3. Include your loved ones
Your loved ones are an important piece of your legacy. How will they impact your legacy? Will you also be leaving assets for your loved ones? Figuring out how you want to include your loved ones in your estate plan can be tricky but be sure you are encouraging an honest dialogue with them.
When you are mapping out your plan for your charitable efforts, invite them to join you in these conversations. Spending this time together will allow you to openly express your wishes and get their input on the plan. Open, honest communication is especially important with tough subjects such as these.
Legacy planning is a complex process. Take some time to evaluate your value set and uncover how your charitable efforts fit into that. You can incorporate charitable efforts into your legacy in many ways, it is just about finding the way that stays true to you and the people you love most.
We are so passionate about extending our hands to help people hone in their charitable efforts. If you would like to discuss your ideas for including charitable giving into your legacy, give us a call. We can’t wait to hear from you!