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The Ins And Outs of Philanthropic Giving In Your Estate Plan


As Florida attorneys who regularly practice in estate planning, we frequently receive questions concerning how couples should go about incorporating philanthropic giving into their estate plan. Below, we discuss how to incorporate these goals into your plan, regardless of whether your motivations are tax-based, personal, etc.:

Choosing One or More Charities

Perhaps you’ve already chosen which charitable cause is meaningful to you and your family, but if not, your attorney can help you with that research. In addition, reviewing previous donations can also sometimes be helpful. Some of the questions we will often ask clients who are choosing one or more charities for their estate plan include the following:

  • Have you had any specific passion during your life, such as animal or environmental protection, etc.? If not, what issues are of most concern you and/or what are you most worried about for future generations?
  • Within any particular areas of passion or concern, do you have any particular concerns or reservations (for example, particular projects you would never want to support)?
  • Does the size and/or budget of the organization or entity matter to you?

There are also a number of websites and articles out there dedicated to pointing you in the right direction when it comes to intelligent giving and finding a charity that best matches your beliefs and interests.

Deciding On Assets

Once you’ve narrowed down some of your overall philanthropic goals, next comes a discussion concerning which assets you would like to donate, and when. There is a particular strategy to this when it comes to deciding what to leave to your beneficiaries versus charities regarding where, exactly, the tax benefits lie. For example, your beneficiaries will be taxed in areas where a charity may not be.  In addition, while it can sometimes make sense to donate a gift other than cash or stock to your charity, there are some charities that do not possess the expertise to process such donations.  This is why consulting with the right estate planning attorney who knows about all of these caveats and regularly practices in this specific area are so important.

Deciding How to Give

Finally, you want to decide how you want to convey this gift. This also comes back to where the tax benefits lie; for example, whether you leave a gift in your will or directly leave your retirement savings, etc., there will be different pros and cons in terms of whether the beneficiary or the charity has to pay taxes on the gift in that form.

Other options you have include charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, community foundations, donor-advised funds, and private foundations. However, it is important to note that each of these options comes with different levels of control concerning how your gifts are directed, as well as methods of minimizing transfer taxes.

Contact Our Experienced Sarasota Estate Planning Attorneys with Questions

At Suncoast Civil Law in Sarasota, we welcome all of your questions concerning estate planning and philanthropic giving. Contact our experienced attorneys today to find out how we can help.