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How Can I Use My Estate Plan to Support Charitable Causes After I’m Gone?

Estate Planning

Using Estate Planning to Support Charitable Causes

By incorporating charitable giving into your estate plan, you can ensure that your legacy extends beyond your lifetime and positively impacts the causes and organizations that are important to you. There are many steps that can be taken to incorporate charitable giving into your estate plan.

Identify Your Charitable Goals

Identifying your charitable goals is the first step in incorporating philanthropy into your estate plan. This process involves reflecting on your values, passions, and the issues that resonate with you on a personal level. Whether it’s supporting animal welfare, promoting social justice, or advancing medical research, identifying your passions can guide your charitable giving decisions.

Choose the Right Charitable Vehicles

Choosing the right charitable vehicles is an important aspect of incorporating philanthropy into your estate plan. These vehicles provide different ways to support charitable causes, each with its own benefits and considerations. Many charitable vehicles are available to help you meet your goals.


A bequest is a provision in your will that directs a specific sum of money, a percentage of your estate, or specific assets to one or more charitable organizations upon your death. Bequests are straightforward and allow you to support your chosen charities while retaining complete control of your assets during your lifetime.

Charitable Trusts

Establishing a charitable remainder or a charitable lead trust allows you to support charities while benefiting your heirs or other beneficiaries. A charitable remainder trust enables you to transfer assets, such as cash, securities, or real estate, to a trust that pays income to you or your designated beneficiaries for a specified period while providing potential income tax deductions. After the term ends, the remaining assets are distributed to one or more charitable organizations. In a charitable lead trust, income from the trust is paid to one or more charitable organizations for a specified period, after which the remaining assets are distributed to your designated beneficiaries. They can pass assets to family members while supporting a charity during the trust term.

Donor-Advised Funds

A donor-advised fund is a charitable giving account established with a public charity, such as a community foundation or a financial institution. You contribute assets to the fund and receive an immediate tax deduction for your donation. You can then offer grants to qualified charitable organizations over time. They offer flexibility and convenience in managing charitable giving and can be established with relatively low administrative costs.

Private Foundations

Private foundations are independent legal entities established by individuals or families for the purpose of making charitable grants. They require more administrative oversight and have stricter regulatory requirements than other charitable vehicles. Private foundations offer maximum control over charitable giving and can involve family members in philanthropic activities.


An endowment is a fund established to support charitable causes in perpetuity. The principal amount is invested, and a portion of the investment income is distributed to charitable organizations yearly. Endowments ensure long-term sustainability for charitable organizations and can be established through various vehicles, such as trusts or donor-advised funds.

Review and Update Regularly

Regularly reviewing and updating your charitable giving plan within your estate is crucial to ensure that it continues to reflect your evolving goals, values, and financial circumstances. Staying informed about developments in tax laws and regulations related to charitable giving allows you to optimize the tax efficiency of your giving strategies. Regular reviews also provide opportunities to communicate with family members about your philanthropic goals and ensure your charitable intentions are understood and supported. Ultimately, by remaining proactive and adaptive in your approach to charitable giving, you can maximize the impact of your contributions and leave a meaningful legacy that aligns with your values and aspirations.

Communicate Your Intentions

Communicating your intentions regarding charitable giving within your estate plan is vital for ensuring that your wishes are understood and honored by your loved ones and the organizations you wish to support. By openly discussing your philanthropic goals, values, and priorities with family members, you can provide clarity and transparency about how you envision your charitable legacy. This communication fosters understanding and alignment among family members, minimizing the potential for confusion or conflict in the future. Also, sharing your intentions with charitable organizations allows them to prepare for potential future contributions and ensures that your support will be directed according to your wishes. Whether through family meetings, written documents, or conversations with charitable beneficiaries, clear communication about your philanthropic intentions helps preserve your legacy and impact on the causes you care about.

Consider Tax Benefits

Considering tax benefits is an important aspect of integrating charitable giving into your estate plan. Charitable contributions can offer significant tax advantages during your lifetime and for your estate. Donations to qualified charitable organizations are typically tax-deductible, meaning they can reduce your taxable income and lower your overall tax bill. You can maximize these deductions and lower your tax liability by strategically planning your charitable giving. Consulting with an estate planning attorney can help you understand the tax implications of your charitable giving strategies and optimize them to achieve your philanthropic and financial goals.

Consult with the Estate Planning Professionals at the Bratton Law Group

Estate planning can be complex. It’s important to consult an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you navigate your charitable giving strategies’ legal and tax implications. From establishing charitable trusts and donor-advised funds to maximizing tax benefits and ensuring compliance with legal regulations, the Bratton Law Group provides comprehensive solutions to help you make a difference while preserving your financial legacy. Schedule a consultation with the Bratton Law Group by calling 856-770-2744.

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