Charitable Planning Is Estate Planning

Billionaire Daniel Ludwig’s estate recently donated $540 million to six cancer research facilities. The very generous gift will have a significant impact on cancer research for many years to come. While most of us won’t have an effect that financially drastic when we’re gone, we can still make a positive difference by continuing to support our favorite charities after our deaths by remembering them in our estate plans.

In a will-based estate plan, charitable planning will generally take the form of outright gifts. In other words, the gifts won’t be made to the charities until your estate has been probated, which can significantly delay the gift. Trust-based estate plans have far more flexibility, allowing you to make gifts over time or even after all of your descendants have passed away.

In Mr. Ludwig’s case, the donations were made via a philanthropic trust, which liquidated some of his real estate holdings to make the gift. But it isn’t necessary to have billions in assets to make similar, if smaller, charitable gifts. Even if a dedicated “philanthropic trust” isn’t necessary considering the size of your estate, a revocable living trust can include provisions making charitable gifts.

Estate planning was once focused heavily on avoiding the estate tax, but since the estate tax exemption amount has climbed to $10.68 million per couple ($5.34 million per person in 2014), fewer and fewer families need to worry about taxes. As a result, most families can focus almost exclusively on the issues that matter to them most, like perpetuating their legacies, including charitable giving.

If you’re interested in making charitable gifts in your estate plan, there are a lot of options to consider. Contact an experienced Louisville estate planning attorney to help you make the best decision possible for you and your family.

About Wallace Spalding

Wallace Spalding has concentrated in Bankruptcy Law for over 25 years–helping people relieve the burden of debt and getting the results they deserve. He has been recognized as one of Louisville’s Top Lawyers in Louisville magazine in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012. Wallace Spalding's Google+ Profile

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