Estate Planning Increasingly Involves Charity Decisions

How to distribute one’s estate, never an easy decision and one with which people wrestle a great deal, becomes all the more complicated for those who don’t have children, stepchildren, grandchildren or other family members who might otherwise normally be in the mix.

(Photo credit: Tax Credits)

(Photo credit: Tax Credits)

A recent item in The New York Times by Caitlin Kelly May, leaving all or part of an estate to nonprofit organizations is something more and more older Americans are not merely considering but are actually doing.
Even some who do have close relatives but don’t feel they are in need of an inheritance or that some cause or another is the better bet are falling into this category, the article indicated.
“Today, with smaller families and more women choosing not to have children, ‘the dynamic has changed pretty significantly for the generation of baby boomers,’” Bob Carter, chairman of the board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals told May.
“The option of doing something charitably significant with their estates is a change,” he was quoted as saying.
“This situation is more and more prevalent,” said Kevin Pickett, executive director of development at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.“Many people come to us to make a donation as a life stage decision. They’ve had a cancer diagnosis, or a friend or family member has. A retirement, divorce or new job can also prompt people to reflect on their legacy. What are we going to do with all this stuff we’ve accumulated in our lifetime?”
Carter, who has 40 years of experience in philanthropy and fundraising, termed this increased focus on charitable giving as part of estate planning complete shift for today’s long-retired population.
“Our family didn’t think of anything but leaving everything to us,” he told the writer. “The concept of estate planning didn’t exist in my parents’ lives.”
“The decision-making process should begin with some philosophical questions, said Isabel Miranda, a partner in the Bloomfield, N.J., law firm Pearlman and Miranda,” May wrote. “Ms. Miranda, a former bank trust officer, now specializesin helping clients plan their wills, trusts and estates.”
“Who do I owe my success to?” Miranda said. “What values do I want to reflect? How do Iwant to pay back the organizations I believe in?”

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