The estate planning laws in many states are pretty straightforward for those who want to donate all or part of their estate to charity.
“You can leave an unlimited amount to a charity,” says fosters.com’s article “Giving to charity an option in estate planning.”
There are many reasons why individuals may elect to will or otherwise donate to a charity at their death. For example, they may not have a close family to inherit the assets in their estate, or they may be committed to an organization.
What’s important to you? That is a question an experienced estate planning attorney will ask if you’re considering donating to a charity. You can leave a specific dollar figure, a percentage of the value of the estate or the whole thing.
The assets the charitable organization is able to receive from an estate will vary. For instance, checking or savings account funds, as well as stocks owned by the individual who wants to donate, will not require the charity to pay taxes—provided it’s a registered non-profit. But it’s a different story for tangible assets. Furniture and personal items must go through the probate process.
You need to do some advance planning now to prepare for an after-death charitable donation. In our example of money in a bank account, forms must be completed at the bank to designate the charity as the recipient of the assets upon your death. Shares of stock can be transferred to the charity by arranging it with the broker or by doing so in a will or trust. The charity would receive the increase in value of the stock. The transfer of shares means that the charity will get the value but will not have to pay taxes on the gains.
You can also direct the charity in how you want the gift used, such as for a new building or for a scholarship. Many non-profits would be happy to have your inheritance—like colleges and universities, religious organizations and animal shelters.
Nevertheless, an experienced estate planning attorney can help advise you regarding how the gift is best made, especially if something should happen with the charity that makes you change your mind about giving.
Reference: fosters.com (August 29, 2016) “Giving to charity an option in estate planning”