How do I leave a gift for a charitable organization that I admire?
It's easy. You can arrange for a gift in several ways, the most common being through a charitable gift in a will or a living trust. Many people set aside a certain dollar amount. Others leave a percentage of their estate, or any assets left over after they have provided for their family. Others leave a paid-up life insurance policy, retirement account, or other financial investment.
Must I have an estate in order to leave a legacy?
Everyone can leave a legacy. "Estate" is simply a word used to describe any money, property, or personal belongings that you own at the time of your death. Most people leave an estate when they die, even though they may not have a great deal of wealth. Even modest gifts are appreciated.
Do I have to include my wish to leave a legacy to a specific organization in my will?
A charitable bequest will not take effect unless you state your intention in your will or living trust. Without a will, you may lose control over your assets after your death.
When should I start to think about leaving a legacy?
The answer is different for each individual. Some people make their wills when they have a first child, or when they receive an inheritance. But don’t put it off--the time is always right to think about how you wish to be remembered.
Why should I consider leaving a legacy?
Consider the institutions and causes you support now. Why have you made gifts of money and time? Picture your Jewish community decades from now. What would you hope to see? Through your legacy, you can ensure that the organizations you care about thrive in perpetuity and the issues you are most concerned with continue to be addressed.
Who will receive my legacy?
All qualified, tax-exempt institutions are appropriate beneficiaries. Organizations you have supported in your life are natural choices. Help keep the Jewish community strong by considering your synagogue, federation, Jewish day school or other Jewish group. You may wish to target fields of interests such as Jewish education, care for the elderly, or social services in Israel. You can also support organizations in the general community that have touched your life.
Consider designating a share of your legacy as unrestricted by including your Jewish community's Unrestricted Endowment. While some issues remain constant, priorities can shift in sudden and unexpected ways. This is an excellent way to express your trust in future community leaders.
Do I tell the charity that I've left a gift?
That is up to you. Charities often like to know in advance so that they can recognize your generosity. They can also tell you about specific opportunities for giving.
How can I invite my children into the process?
You should engage your children in every step of the legacy planning process. Here are some suggestions:
How can I make sure that my legacy reflects what is important to me?
The federation/foundation is here to be your key resource, advisor and guide. Because we distribute millions of dollars in grants to the community each year, we can help you identify community needs and potential beneficiaries. We can meet with you before you meet with your advisors to brainstorm initial ideas and goals. In future years, we can help involve your children and grandchildren in carrying out your legacy.
How can the federation/foundation work with my professional advisors?
We can work with you and your professional advisors to plan your gift in a way that furthers your unique financial and charitable goals. We are available to meet and consult with your advisors throughout the process.
When should I fund my legacy?
Depending on your assets and goals, you can fund your legacy now or after your lifetime. For example, if you feel there is a compelling need to provide scholarships to Jewish day schools for needy children, you can begin those scholarships now and direct your estate to complete the balance of the funding. Alternatively, you can designate your entire legacy to be funded after your lifetime if that is more appropriate for you.
How should I fund my legacy?
With the help of the federation/foundation and your professional advisors, you will carefully choose the source of your dollars to help fund your legacy. Examples include retirement funds, highly-appreciated stock and real estate.
How should I structure my legacy?
Depending on your goals, your legacy can be structured in the way that is most advantageous for you. You, your spouse and family members can receive income for life through charitable gift annuities or charitable remainder trusts. Or your legacy can be a simple bequest in your will or from your IRA.
What is the difference between a bequest and an endowment?
A bequest is a legacy gift, distributed from the donor’s estate after the end of his or her life. If not designated, it can be spent in the year that it is captured. An endowment is a permanent fund that is held in perpetuity, distributing a specified percentage annually to the designated purpose. For example, a Lion of Judah Endowment (LOJE) and Perpetual Annual Campaign Endowment (PACE) are funds that are held by the federation/foundation and distributed each year to the Annual Campaign. An endowment can be established by bequest or during the donor's life.
How can I get started?
Simply call the Jewish federation/foundation or your favorite organization(s) for a confidential meeting. They look forward to working with you to keep the community strong and vibrant for generations to come.
Consider designating a share of your legacy as unrestricted.
This is an excellent way to express your trust in future community leaders.