Is an estate plan right for you?
Simply put, yes. An estate plan is a set of coordinated documents that lays forth a person’s plans for managing his or her affairs during incapacity and after death.
This typically includes a revocable living trust that is updated throughout one’s lifetime to manage the disposition of assets; a will that “pours over” into the trust that allows for payment of taxes, funeral arrangements, appointment of fiduciaries such as an executor to manage the estate administration process as well as guardianship of minor children; and other legal instruments such as a Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Healthcare Directive.
Many people will also have additional estate assets such as life insurance, retirement plans and perhaps a charitable trust or annuity.
Do I Need an Estate Plan?
Often, people make the mistake of thinking that they are not wealthy enough to need an estate plan.
The reality is: If you own any assets during your lifetime, you need a plan for transferring them out of your ownership after your death.
If you pass away without a plan in place (dying “intestate”), the state in which you live has a plan for you: probate. The probate process is legal supervision of your estate if there is not sufficient documentation in place that serves to avoid it. Probate can be very costly and can significantly delay your intended distributions such as inheritances for family members and gifts to charity.
Can I Plan for Family and for Charity?
There are a variety of vehicles available that can be tailored to meet almost all circumstances. It is possible to structure an estate plan that effectively manages tax liabilities, provides for family and creates a lasting impact in the community based on the donor’s philanthropic values and lifetime experiences.
If you own any assets during your lifetime, you need a plan for transferring them out of your ownership after your death.
A legacy fund is a placeholder set up during the donor’s lifetime to instruct us how to honor a planned gift upon maturation, typically following the donor’s death.
Like a revocable living trust, a legacy fund is a flexible document that takes advantage of being able to plan during one’s lifetime so nothing is left to chance. A legacy fund can be used to accommodate any portion of your estate you decide to leave to charity.
Think of a legacy fund as the manager of the charitable aspect of your estate plan. Your documentation is coordinated when you name your legacy fund as a beneficiary of your trust, will, annuity, retirement plan, life insurance policy or other instrument.
How Do Legacy Funds Work?
Legacy funds are dormant until a gift is received from a donor’s estate. They contain no money, are not charged fees, and can be created and updated at no cost. (Compared to updating a trust document each time you change your mind about a charitable beneficiary, this can save you a lot of time and money in attorney fees.)
Once realized, the legacy fund becomes active and The San Diego Foundation manages your gift according to your wishes: as a Broad Purpose, Designated, Advised or Scholarship fund.
Another key factor to consider is how you want to leave your mark. Most legacy funds are set up as endowments so the positive impact of a donor lives on in perpetuity, with earnings available for grantmaking to nonprofits strengthening our community.
How Can I Get Started?
Estate planning can be an arduous task, but ultimately one of the most rewarding. The most frequent comment I hear upon completing a legacy fund agreement with a donor is, “I’m so glad I have a plan in place!”
The peace of mind of knowing that the assets you spent a lifetime building are properly cared for and helping strengthen lives and community after your death is priceless.
Remember – a planned gift is a gift anyone can give.
If you have a desire to leave any portion of your estate to charity upon your passing, please have a conversation with us so that we can provide guidance and explore options with you.
Contact our Charitable Giving Team today!
About Robyn Sharp
As Planned Giving Director, Robyn Sharp works with donors who wish to remember the community through Legacy funds and planned gifts. She also manages estate administration activities and works with nonprofits in the community to establish endowment funds and planned gifts.