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Including charitable bequests in your will

On Behalf of | Sep 17, 2021 | Estate Planning

Estate planning is important for all adults in Pennsylvania. Everyone should at least have a will. Even for people who don’t have large estates, a will is crucial. It allows them to name an executor and determine how their belongings will be distributed. Part of that includes bequests to people and organizations that are important to them. Without a will, the state will distribute those assets according to a pre-determined formula. That means charities the decedent loved may be bypassed.

Understanding charitable bequests

The simplest definition of a bequest is that it’s a gift. In estate planning, these gifts are typically made through a trust or a will. The person who wants to leave a bequest must include instructions in one of these documents outlining what they want. In the case of charitable bequests, it can be a good idea to coordinate them with the organization. For example, it may be possible to earmark a donation for a specific use or fund maintained by the charity.

Types of bequests

There are several types of bequests that may be outlined in a will. Some are general. Others will come from a particular source, like a specific bank account or the proceeds of the sale from an asset. Some bequests are known as residuary. These are given only after all the expenses of the estate are discharged. Finally, specific bequests represent a gift of a particular property. For example, an art collector may decide to make a specific bequest of a painting to a museum.

Charitable bequests make it possible for a person to do good in their community. Bequests can be very important to institutions like schools, shelters, and museums. They may help the name of the decedent live on in memory. Charitable bequests are also crucial in helping manage the tax liabilities for an estate. These gifts can reduce the value of an estate below the taxable threshold.