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Berge & Berge, LLP Blog

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

FAQ About Charitable Gifting & Bequests

I am considering a charitable donation in my estate plan – is this easy to arrange?


Charitable donations can be a wonderful component to a comprehensive estate plan – particularly for a testator with special ties to a particular organization. The following addresses some of the most common questions with regard to planned charitable giving:

FAQ: What is meant by “planned giving?”

Planned giving is the systematic method of advancing assets for the benefit of a tax-exempt corporation, and most often refers to arrangements made in an estate plan. However, planned giving can occur prior to death, and is often used as a way to minimize exposure to estate taxes.

FAQ: What are the tax benefits to leaving money to charity in an estate plan?

It depends. First, it matters whether the estate will be subject to an estate tax, which is dependent upon the size of the estate as of the date of death. Currently, an estate must be valued above $5.73 million in order to be subject to the federal estate tax. In this instance, leaving assets to charity can work to reduce the value of the estate – and hopefully avoid taxation altogether. For the vast majority of estates not quite reaching this valuation, gifting to charity will not necessary offer any tax incentives. However, there are a number of other non-quantifiable benefits to leaving money to charity by will or trust.

FAQ: What is the best way to set up planned giving?

The best vehicle for arranging testamentary charitable donations will vary depending on the size of the gift, the frequency of the donations (some people gift in increments) and the specific organization’s needs and wishes. While leaving a cash gift by Will is certainly possible, there are a number of other options including a charitable remainder trust, charitable gift annuity, or charitable lead trust. Also, gifts of real property may be gifted by a payable-on-death deed, which will transfer out of probate and directly to the charity.

Contact an experienced estate planning attorney today!


If you are considering making a testamentary donation to charity, please consider speaking with the knowledgeable estate planning professionals of Berge & Berge, LLP: 408-389-6980.

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