When looking for information on just about any subject, we tend to start by looking online. The internet has a wide array of information, but the problem is that there is almost as much bad information as good. This is especially true in the estate planning world, and when it comes to estate planning and charitable giving a small misunderstanding can destroy a well thought out plan.

One of the more common mistakes we come across from do-it-yourself estate plans or those done by attorneys who do not regularly handle this area of law is the misconception that a person’s Will controls everything when they die. This is not entirely true as there are exceptions, and those exceptions are some of the core aspects of a well-planned estate.

So how does this tie into charitable giving?

Most of the time when you find information on charitable giving in an estate, the article is aimed for higher net worth families looking for a tax break, or those who have enough to give their kids plenty of money, while still being able to benefit a cause near and dear to their heart. But that type of plan does not affect the majority of people out there. The charitable giving we are referring to is on a smaller scale: a final tithing to the church, a gift to a non-profit organization, or even a donation to medical research for a specific cause. This type of giving can be a simple inclusion, but easily gets overlooked in the execution stage. For example:

John decides that he would like 10% of his estate to go to his church after his death. He creates a Will and then places his son on his accounts so he can have help paying bills, etc. John dies, and his son comes to visit me to find out his legal obligations. Despite John wanting 10% of his estate to go to the church, his son decides not to give that money to the church but pays off his car instead. Even with the designation being in the Will, there’s nothing the church can do about it. With careful planning, this issue can easily be avoided, while still allowing John’s son to be in charge of the estate.

If you want to leave something to charity it will take some additional planning and forward thinking.

A misguided titling mistake or not having the correct legal name of the organization can prevent it from happening entirely. The best way to ensure your designations are followed is through the use of a living trust, but while trusts can be very effective for estate plans of all sizes, they may not be worth the investment.

Our goal is to make sure your wishes are carried out and your concerns regarding possible conflicts are avoided.

You tell us what you want and don’t want, and we’ll help you get there. If you feel you want to do it yourself by purchasing a will online, check out our Family Protection Plan. It is competitively priced online planning but includes the added benefit of help from a local attorney.