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Empowering Philanthropy: A Guide to Bequeathing to Non-Profit Charities

Posted by Anthony Serra | Apr 29, 2024 | 0 Comments

Last week we wrote about how philanthropy is taking on a new, more inclusive role, no longer reserved for the ultra-rich. Today, we want to provide more guidance for how simple it is to make a difference by leaving something in your will to a local charity in your will.

When considering including a non-profit charity in your will, several key factors merit attention to ensure your intentions are carried out effectively.

Identify the Charity

Firstly, specificity is paramount. Clearly identify the charity you wish to support, including its full legal name and any identifying details that distinguish it from other organizations. This prevents ambiguity and ensures your bequest reaches the intended recipient.

Location is Important

Additionally, consider the location of the charity's operations. Many charities have multiple branches or operate in various regions. Specify which branch or location you intend to benefit with your bequest to ensure your support aligns with your preferences.

How the Money is to be Used

Furthermore, articulate how you want your donation to be utilized. You can designate funds for a specific purpose, such as supporting a particular program or initiative, or grant the charity sole discretion in allocating the funds according to its current needs and priorities.

Consider an Alternate

In the event the designated charity ceases to exist or changes its mission significantly, designate an alternate beneficiary to receive the bequest. This ensures your philanthropic goals are preserved even if circumstances change. Short of naming a specific alternate charity, you can simply say that the bequest should go to another charitable organization as closely aligned with your intentions as possible that your executor will have the discretion to name.

Help the Locals

Lastly, prioritize local charities when possible. Supporting organizations in your community can have a direct and meaningful impact, fostering positive change where it's needed most. Even a modest amount to a community based charity can have a significant impact on what that charity is able to do.

By addressing these considerations in your will, you can ensure your charitable legacy reflects your values and supports causes you are passionate about, leaving a lasting impact for generations to come.

Many non-profit organizations have language for bequests available on their websites. If you are interested in leaving a contribution in your will, you can search their site and bring this language to your lawyer. A basic example looks like this:

I [your name] give to [organization], a non-profit, located in [city, state, country], the sum of [$ amount] to be used for [description]. In the event [organization] is not operating at the time of my death, this bequest is to go to another non-profit that is closely aligned with my intentions, such non-profit to be selected at the sole discretion of my executor.

About the Author

Anthony Serra

Tony Serra is a passionate advocate, especially for the elderly, disabled and those of modest means who need the services of an experienced and caring attorney. For more than 30 years, Tony has been helping common, everyday folks navigate their way through life's turbulent waters. Through innovation and utilizing modern technology, Tony and his law firm are now able to offer quality legal services that at one time were prohibitively expensive, at a fraction of the cost. If you need basic legal services, such as a Will, Power of Attorney, Living Will, Special Needs Trust, real estate transactions, uncontested guardianship pleadings and much more, please visit our website and our SMART LAW legal services platform. You will be pleasantly surprised by what we offer and glad you did! Tony is also an experienced mediator and founder of the Conflict Resolution Center of NJ. Tony has specific training in family matters as well as elder law and contested guardianship and estate cases.  


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