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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Udoka

How Can You Leave a Legacy?

Planned giving is an opportunity for a person to build a philanthropic legacy. Planned giving refers to arranging a donation to charity while a person is still alive. Charitable gifts made as part of your estate planning are a lasting expression of your life. It is a personal legacy that continues providing for the causes that matter most to you.

Many registered charities and nonprofit organizations have planned giving or legacy gift programs. If you haven’t chosen a charity, begin by identifying the cause that you value the most. You could choose something you have given to in the past, or something that has impacted you or someone you love. You can give locally or choose a national group. Once you have settled on the cause you want to support, research potential organizations. Some things to consider when choosing include their mission statement, goals, results and financial transparency. Once you have an organization in mind, look into the planned giving options that they offer.

Let’s look at a couple of examples. Oklahoma State University has a very informative Estate Planning page that lists different options for including a gift to the university in your estate, such as through a bequest or life insurance. For example, if you wanted to bequest money to the university upon your death (a bequest is the easiest and most common type of planned giving) you would simply work with your lawyer or an advisor to include language in your will or living trust to specify a gift to leave to the University. You would also contact the OSU Foundation’s Office of Gift Planning and coordinate your estate planning with them. Additionally, they have a newsletter that keeps donors informed of ways estate gifts are positively impacting OSU, and they offer membership to the Heritage Society for those with qualifying commitments.

Feed the Children offers a multitude of resources for planned giving and has similar giving options to OSU, including simple beneficiary designation gifts. For example, If you wanted to designate their organization (or any other organization) as the beneficiary of a retirement account or life insurance policy, you would contact your account or policy representative, request a new beneficiary form, then sign it and mail it back to them. It is always good to let the nonprofit know that you have included them in your estate planning. They make it simple to contact their planned giving directors through an easy to fill out online form that will put someone in contact with you and help you navigate setting up your gift. Once you are ready to plan your will or trust, they offer a Wills Guide that you can request to be mailed to you, and an online Wills Planner.

Every planned giving program varies, so it is helpful to learn about an organization’s individual programs. Most organizations have that information easily available on their website, offer brochures that can be requested, or you can call and discuss the options with their development director or whomever coordinates their gift planning program. No matter what type of planned giving option you choose or what organization you choose to give to, it is important to work with a representative from the organization and your lawyer to set up something that will leave the legacy that will be the most beneficial to your estate and the most impactful to others.

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