Some people have no heirs to pass on their wealth to after they die. In some cases, they may choose to donate their money to charitable organizations.
Michelle Blackford, philanthropic advisor to the Cleveland Foundation; Jessica Grashoff, Senior Gift Planning Officer at University Hospitals; Andrea Ponikvar, Grants Officer, Cleveland Zoological Society; and Katie Shames, Senior Major Gift and Pland Giving Officer at the Cleveland Orchestra, all in Cleveland, discussed the options people have when donating funds to charities when they die.
“An individual may choose to work with us on their estate plan to create a named endowment that will allow them to establish a permanent fund to carry out their charitable intentions,” Blackford said.
When considering making these plans, individuals should consult the philanthropic advisors of the organizations they wish to donate to, Blackford suggested. Some organizations work with their benefactors’ estate attorneys to ensure the transition goes smoothly.
Blackford recommended choosing an organization that conforms to 501c3. She also advised that potential benefactors should consider how long the organization has been in operation. It can also be helpful to know a trustworthy person on the board of the foundation.
“We have a few different funds,” she noted of the Cleveland Foundation. “One is a designated fund; You can designate one or more of your favorite charities to benefit from the income from this fund. Another option would be for people to set up an area of interest fund.”
An area of interest fund is a fund where the benefactor designates philanthropic endeavors that they wish to support, such as education and the arts, and organizations that serve those areas of interest receive proceeds from the fund, Blackford said.
Grashoff recommended finding an estate planner who could help formulate charitable wishes in the event of death.
“Your estate planner has a complete view of your assets and can help you assess whether it is best to include a charity as a beneficiary in your estate or trust, your life insurance or retirement plan, or even inherit tangible personal property such as art Your individual situation,” she explained.
Regarding medical charities, Grashoff said she’s found people donate because of their visions or stories, or because they or someone they love has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and want to invest in efforts to find a cure.
“Whatever motivates you — innovation, access, compassion — find that out,” she advised, adding that organizations can then help benefactors connect their personal missions, vision and passions with their philanthropic and financial goals in order to to make meaningful contributions.
Grashoff said organizations should focus on donors and ensure their supporters understand the impact their contributions are having on the foundations and the areas they serve.
“In a situation where a person doesn’t have immediate family, it’s especially important to have a formal estate plan or will,” Ponikvar said. “When philanthropy is appealing, there are many options, including direct donations, charitable residual foundations, and donor-recommended funds.”
When meeting with an estate planning attorney who would be asked to help prepare these plans, Ponikvar suggested that people look for someone who is trustworthy and certified in Ohio in the fields of estate planning, trust and probate law.
She said it helps to compile a list of potential attorneys and interview each of them to find the best solution for the client and their needs. And prospective donors should research charitable giving programs ahead of time.
“Donating to charity through an estate plan is an incredible way to leave a legacy,” Ponikvar said. “Before you meet with your attorney, contact your favorite nonprofit organizations to gather information about their proposed fundraising programs.”
Regardless of the situation, one should always work with an experienced trust and probate attorney, as well as an experienced financial advisor, to ensure that the funds remaining after their death are used in a way that emphasizes the values and priorities in a donor’s life. shame said.
“For those who do not have immediate family to inherit, funds can be used to support other people, institutions and causes close to their hearts,” she added. “An estate plan should be viewed as an opportunity rather than a chore.”
Clients may wish to ask potential attorneys questions such as: B. what their will should contain, who can make decisions for them if they are unable to, what values their estate dollars should support, what charitable giving options allow them to see how their gift is having an impact, what decisions irrevocable, how often they should review their estate plans, and what happens if circumstances change and they need to change their plans.
“It’s important to remember that you are the captain of your own ship,” Shames said. “There is much in life that we cannot control, but how you are remembered based on the causes you support during your lifetime and beyond is firmly in your hands.”