Planned Giving

Treating Your Charity Like Family

By Richard H. Foley, Jr.

Many of my clients tell me that they provide financial support to one or more charities with regular gifts and annual contributions. But when I ask them about making a gift to charity in their will or trust the same clients sometimes say, “I have given plenty of money to charity during my lifetime, so I don’t feel like I need to leave anything to the charity when I die.   I’d rather leave what’s left of my estate to my family.

I’m not sure what motivates people to give money to charities during their lifetime that disappears when they are working on their estate plan.  Perhaps it relates whether the client really identifies with the core mission of the charity to the point that the charity and its causes feel like family.

The word philanthropy comes from the Greek and means love for mankind.  The Greek work philia is the virtuous kind of love that is often reserved for the closest friends and family.  It is a love that is motivated by the practical needs of the beloved. True philanthropy is caring for our closest friends and family because they have needs that we feel compelled to fulfill.

If you make regular gifts to charity and have developed a deep bond with the charity and its mission, you should consider treating the charity like another family member and include the charity in your estate plan.  Contributions to charity from your will or trust are called planned gifts and they can make a substantial difference to the charity.  Moreover, with the help of a qualified estate planning attorney, planned gifts can often be structured in a way that saves income or inheritance taxes, lessening the practical impact of the gift on other heirs. If you would like to make a planned gift, talk with your charity or your attorney about ways you can leave an inheritance to your family and to your charity.

Richard Foley is a founding owner of Foley & Foley, P.C., a full service estate and business planning law firm.  Learn more about them at ©2009 Foley & Foley A.P.C

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