A comprehensive estate plan starts with a Last Will and Testament; however, from there an estate plan can take numerous different forms and accomplish a wide variety of goals. For some people, an estate plan must include provisions that allow them to give to charity. If you are one of those people, there a number of tips that you may wish to consider when deciding which charities to include in your estate plan and how to include them.
Choosing the right charities can be difficult, considering that the National Center for Charitable Statistics tells us that there are one million public charitable organizations alone in the United States. If you have a long standing history of supporting local or national charities then you may simply wish to include those charities in your estate plan. If, however, you are uncertain which charities to support, consider searching websites like charitywatch.org for ideas and inspiration.
Another thing you should consider before settling on a charity is whether or not the charity is recognized by the IRS to ensure that you will receive the tax benefits of gifting. IRS recognition can be checked using the Exempt Organization Select Check.
Lastly, you will probably want to know how your chosen charity spends the money donated by individuals like you. You can find out the financial health of a charity and what percentage of donations actually goes to the intended purpose by looking up the charity on Charity Navigator.
Armed with all of that information, you can sit down with your estate planning attorney and decide how best to incorporate your charitable giving into your estate plan.