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What is Leave a Legacy?

        LEAVE A LEGACY® is an unprecedented, regional collaborative effort to encourage people from all walks of life to make a bequest or planned gift to their favorite charitable or non-profit organizations.


Why Leave a Legacy?

        Many of our area's charitable or non-profit organizations will struggle to survive in the coming years without an increase in planned or bequest giving. That's why many people who give generously to their favorite charitable organizations while they are alive are concerned that their contributions will be missed when they're gone. And rightly so. Information from our probate courts shows that only a small percentage of local wills leave any money to charity. People can continue to make a difference with a little planning.


How large does a "legacy" have to be?

While some gifts may be large, many are small. Regardless of size, all gifts are important to help continue the vital work of our charitable non-profit organizations.


Where do I begin?

Together with your financial professional advisor, begin collecting information to determine the best approach for leaving your legacy. Making a bequest or other testamentary gift is actually quite simple. It can be as easy as including a bequest in your will, or changing the name of the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or an IRA. It is important, however, that you always consult your personal legal or tax advisor when making decisions to leave a charitable gift through a will or from your estate.


If I make a bequest now, how can I be sure to have enough
money to cover my expenses through the rest of my life?

Many donors worry that by leaving a legacy, they will not have enough assets to see them through the rest of their lives or through the "hard times," such as a health and/or financial crisis. They may also be concerned that family members or children will not benefit from receiving the full sum of their estate. Professional financial advisors can show you how a legacy gift can generate tax savings and/or an income stream for yourself, a spouse or children.


Are legacies always given in the form of money?

Gifts may come in the form of money, property, an investment or percentage of an estate. Tax benefits often accompany a gift from a will or estate.


Must I have an estate in order to leave a gift?

An estate is simply a word used to describe any property, money or personal belongings that you may have at the time of your death. Most people leave an estate when they die, even though they may not have a great deal of wealth. Anyone can arrange to leave a charitable gift from their estate when they die.


Do I have to include my wish to leave a gift to a specific organization in my will?

To be certain that the group receives the gift, you should state your intentions in your will. Without a will, you lose control over your belongings after death. Your property and finances are settled according to state laws, whether or not they coincide with your or your family's wishes.


How do I leave a gift for an organization that I admire?

Many individuals choose to leave a gift through their will. There are many different ways to leave gifts to charitable non-profit organizations. It is important to talk to your attorney and advisors about your charitable plans.


Do I tell the charity I've left the gift?

This is up to you. Charities like to know in advance so they can both recognize your generosity and make sure they can accommodate your wishes.


How do I leave a gift in memory of a person or for a specified purpose?

A gift is a wonderful way to recognize someone who has made a difference in your life. You may also want to give to a specific cause like research or to a new building. This kind of memorial gift can be arranged in your will, the same way that you would leave a personal gift from your estate. You just need to make it clear that the gift is given in memory of a particular person or for a specific use.


Where can I find out more about how to Leave a Legacy?

It is critical to seek the advise of your attorney and other advisors including accountants, insurance agents, investments planners, professional trust officers and financial planners. Development professionals at charitable or non-profit organizations can also provide helpful information.


Important tips about leaving a legacy.


  • Talk to a variety of specialists, including your attorney, a financial advisor and the development professionals at your favorite charitable non-profit organizations. Learn as much as you can about various charitable gift options and the kinds of gifts that make the most sense for both you and your favorite charity or non-profit.
  • Understand the role and particular expertise of each type of financial specialist.
  • Engage an attorney and /or advisor who will best represent you and your interests. Always make sure there is a backup attorney and/or advisor in case your attorney/advisor is unavailable at a critical time.
  • Seek an attorney and/or professional financial advisor who shares your commitment to charitable giving.
  • For legal work, enlist an attorney who practices estate planning on a full-time or nearly full-time basis.
  • Determine your attorney and.or advisor's expertise in relationship to your needs. Wills? Accounting? Tax law? Trusts?
  • Make sure the attorney and /or advisor has experience within your specific financial range.
  • As you narrow your choices, seek references and follow your instincts. Find someone you are comfortable with and trust. Encourage the principal attorney and/or advisor to work with other key advisors and professionals, as well as your favorite charitable or non-profit organization(s).

       NOTE! (None of this information should be construed as legal advice. In making a charitable gift, it is always important to seek the advise of your attorney and professional financial advisors.)

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