For many people, the idea of leaving a beloved charity or nonprofit organization a gift as part of your estate plan is essential. If you want to do this, it is important that you and your estate planning attorney sit down and discuss not only how much you wish to give, but also the charity to whom you wish to leave your gift. Here’s a simple process you can go through to help you identify and choose a good charity.
Step 1: Make a list.
Start your charitable donation search by creating a list of causes or organizations that are close to you and the issues you feel strongly about. You should not feel obligated to donate to one group or another simply because you have a history with them or because you feel as if it is expected of you. In the end, your charitable donation should be something you feel strongly about and one that you will be proud of making.
Step 2: Research the charity.
After identifying the charities or causes you feel strongly about, you should investigate each charity and determine if it is reputable. In general, a good rule of thumb is to make sure that the charity uses at least 60 percent of its yearly revenue in support of its cause, and not as expenses, overhead or for other purposes.
Step 3: Determine the best method.
While you can always leave property to a charity by making a will, there are other methods that can benefit you and your estate, as well as the charity, even more. For example, you may be able to create a trust that can dictate how your funds are used long after you’ve died. You may also be able to give gifts while you are still alive so you can reduce estate taxes and have an immediate impact.