How Do I Include a Charity In My Will? Just Say: “X number of $ to Red Cross”?

No, actually. Chris Reid of Houston’s American Red Cross chapter has taught me that there are specific methods of giving to charities or non-profits that will best meet the intent of the giver. Here are 7 tips that will help you make the most of your charitable bequests:

1. Be Specific–a bequest “to my favorite charity” may work if it is well known which one that is. But if you’re charitable in your lifetime, chances are good that you are charitable to more than one group, making it difficult to determine which of those is your favorite.

2. Be Specific About The Ultimate Recipient–do you mean for it to go to the International Red Cross, the American National Red Cross or for the use of the local chapter (such as the Greater Houston Area or Dallas-Fort Worth Chapters)? Or maybe even a specific service line of the Red Cross (e.g., Disaster Relief or Service to the Armed Forces)? This matters because if you want a certain entity to receive a gift, it might not make it there right away after your death unless you are specific.

3. Be Specific About The Purpose Of The Gift–is it to fund Houston Salvation Army Santas during the holidays? Thanksgiving? Christmas? Or is it for the Salvation Army to use as it sees fit in the way it thinks is best and most needed? If the latter, say that in your will.

4. Tell The Charity You’re Going To Give It A Gift–it’s best to discuss plans with the charity in advance, so it can be prepared for the money and create plans to use it. This is more important if you plan to leave tangible objects, such as artwork to a museum and can ensure that the charity actually can accept the object before leaving it. Also, talking to the charity in advance about any restrictions to the donation can help prevent misunderstandings going forward.

5. Tell Your Family About The Bequest To The Charity–one of them will likely be your executor after you pass away, so it will make the probate process easier for the executor. Also, you can explain to family members why money is being given to the charity and not to them. In end-of-life situations what is obvious to you is almost never obvious to the family.

6. Endowed Or Not Endowed?–consider whether you want the funds you give to be “endowed” funds. Every charity handles their bequest gifts a little differently, but for the most part unless the donor specifies that the funds are to be endowed it is left up to the charity on how to allocate the funds. Many donors like the idea of their gift being endowed since it will live on long after they are gone.

7. Consult A Professional Before Making Gifts–in your will or during your life. The vehicles available can get complicated. Knowing how a charitable remainder trust differs from a charitable gift annuity, for example, is something you should know before using either.

Gift-giving in Wills is an art. Contact me and we’ll make sure you’re a Picasso or DaVinci.
(713) 880 3329

Leave a Reply