Tuesday, 09 July 2019 21:58

Leaving a Legacy: Starting the Conversation

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Education, career, family, hobbies – there are many different steps we take to create the life we desire, but there comes a point where we should also start taking steps to define and build the legacy we wish to leave after our lifetime.

There are many ways to distribute your assets that will create an influential impact both immediately and after your life, but broaching the subject with your financial professional may seem daunting or even uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to be. The vast majority of legacy gifts are simple bequests in a will – a set amount or a percentage of your estate. You just have to decide what charities and how much.

Before digging into the technical terms of planned giving, it is best to take a personal look at defining your legacy. The first question many people ask themselves is, “Am I (are we) in a financially sound position that allows for considering charitable giving options?”

The answer is that people of all economic backgrounds can truly make a difference to a charity they are passionate about. Gifts do not look the same for each person or household. There are numerous options for creating a donation plan that matches your vision, and gifts of any size can truly help to a nonprofit organization and are always welcome.

Defining what your legacy will look like is the next vital step. Consider whom you want to benefit from your gift; what organizations and missions are most important to you now and in the future? Discussing and answering these questions will help guide the direction of your legacy, and will narrow down the ways you would like to see your gift used. It is important to note that conveying the exact name, address and contact information for the charity of your choice could mean the difference between ensuring your gift would benefit your intended local chapter versus being directed to a regional, state or national level of that organization.

Once you have a clear vision for the impact you want your gift to have, you can begin exploring planned giving options with a financial professional. Since starting the conversation may seem overwhelming, there are a few key topics individuals should be sure to bring up and explore with their advisor.

First, inquire about your options for having your legacy take effect now and after your lifetime. There are both options to begin planned giving while the donor is alive, as well as multiple ways for gifts to be used upon the donor’s passing. Discussing these options will help to create the timeline of your gift.

Second, ask if qualified charitable distributions are available to you. Your financial planner will be able to explain the options you have for distributions from an IRA that go directly to qualified charities, as well as other ways of giving that fit your personal situation.

Finally, those looking to create a long-lasting impact should inquire about a donor-advised fund, which allows donors to create a type of charitable investment account that can be used over time to support the agencies and causes you care about.

Once you have arrived at an agreement with your financial advisor on your legacy, you should make a point to talk to your family about your intentions and wishes. Although this conversation may not be an easy one for some, it will provide you with a piece of mind your desires will be carried out.

With the recent changes to tax laws, and the intricacies of estate planning, it is important to dig deep into these questions with a financial professional to ensure your legacy is built to meet your vision. Taking time to plan and safeguard your legacy now means less stress on yourself and your family when it is time to start acting upon your plan to put your legacy into motion.

For more information on planned giving in Oswego County, visit www.oswegoleavealegacy.org.

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