Making a decision to bequest money to a charity in a Will can be very difficult. Every charity is worthy of our help and in the current economic climate their call for assistance becomes louder.
How do you make a choice? What can you do to ensure need? The Retiree Guide to Bequests is a tool that can help you through this decision making process. It outlines what legal processes should be followed to ensure the legacy you have left is a lasting one that reaches those whom you desire to help. The Guide also provides information that will give you a greater understanding on what making a bequest means to you, your family and to those you choose to assist. Important things to consider.
Making a Will
Everybody should have an up to date Will that clearly sets out how you wish your estate to be handled. It is always advisable to seek professional advice when drawing up a Will, as it is the best way to clearly state how you wish to distribute and protect your assets when you pass away.
How can a solicitor help me?
Your solicitor can:
- Advise you on, draw up and supervise the proper execution of your will;
- Arrange your property affairs for maximum security;
- Give you independent legal advice;
- Advise on trusts and estate planning and set up a trust fund if necessary;
- Advise on gifts and other transfers of assets;
- Advise on, draw up and supervise the proper execution of a power of attorney;
- Advise on and supervise the appointment of an enduring guardian.
Choosing a charity
A great starting point when deciding what charity you would like to support is to ask yourself “Why do I want to give back to the community?”
To help clarify your reasons you could consider your answers to the following questions.
- If I had the capacity to change three things in the community what would they be?
- What particular causes do I care about and want to support?
- Do I prefer to support research work, public education, self-help, direct services or advocacy?
- Do I want to support a local, state, national or international cause?
Once you have given thought to those questions, you can identify the major causes or issues of a variety of organisations and review their current information on how your bequest will benefit them and how your gift will be used. programs, goals and achievements. Another point to consider is whether the particular organisation is financially healthy.
Once you have made a shortlist, it is a good idea to talk to the charities that you are considering including in your Will.
You can seek information on how your bequest will benefit them and how your gift will be used.
How to make a Bequest
There are different types of bequest arrangements that you can choose from when opting to leave money to a charity.
- Residual Bequest- Once you have looked after family members, friends and your debts you can choose to leave the remainder (residual) of your estate to a charity. This style of bequest is effective because the real dollar value of your bequest is not eroded by inflation over time.
- Percentage or fractional- This type of bequest is written as a percentage or fraction of your entire Estate and
is effective because it isn’t eroded by inflation. The percentage can be any amount you choose up to 100%.
- Specific- This is when you specify an amount of money, stocks/shares or property as a bequest.
- Whole estate- This is when the entire estate is left and
- is usually done by those who have no dependants and beneficiaries and/or those who want to make a significant difference.
It is best to talk to your solicitor about the type of bequest that best suits you and your estate.
Including a bequest in your Will
Making a bequest means that you need to review and update your plans on a regular basis. Including or changing a bequest can be done easily by adding your instruction as a codicil to your Will, which eliminates the need to re-write your Will when circumstances change.
A codicil is a legal document and as such must be signed and witnessed by independent witnesses (they don’t have to be the same witnesses as those on your original Will). They must be present and watch while you sign it.
While it is not difficult to choose to include a charity by way of a codicil, it is recommended that you talk to the charity to ensure you include the correct wording. It is best to contact your solicitor or seek professional advice so you can be sure your wishes are clear.
How much to give
It is important to remember to choose an organisation that you know and believe will benefit from your support and one you are comfortable with. Leaving a bequest is a wonderful way to support the vital work of your chosen charity without leaving yourself short during your lifetime.
Every amount, no matter how big or small, is gratefully received by charities and the decision on what type of bequest you would like to make will depend on your own personal circumstances.