Making a Charitable Bequest

There are countless causes and organizations that could use our help. While you may not have the financial resources to make a significant charitable donation right now, you could choose to leave part of your estate to a charity you care about after you die. This is called a charitable bequest.

A charitable bequest is a distribution of your estate to a charitable organization through your last will and testament. With a charitable bequest, you can help the less fortune, support medical research, or help protect the environment and wildlife. When you make a charitable bequest in your last will and testament, you retain complete control of your assets until your passing.

Types of Bequests

There are several types of bequests: Specific, General, Residuary, Contingent and Percentage.

  • Specific: A specific bequest is the donation of a specific dollar amount or property. This is the most popular type of charitable bequest.
  • General: A general bequest doesn't specify the source of the donation. It allows your executor to honor the bequest from any available source.
  • Residuary: This type of bequest is honored after all your debts, taxes and other bequests have been satisfied. The donation is the remaining assets of your estate after all other terms of your will have been made.
  • Contingency: A contingency-based bequest goes into effect if your named beneficiary does not survive you.
  • Percentage: This type of bequest devises a specific percentage of the estate that will go to the charity.

Use the Correct Language

To ensure your final wishes are rightfully carried out, your charitable bequests must be properly written and worded. You must use very specific language and correctly describe the charity in your will. This includes using the legal name and address of the charity, as well as the correct spelling. Consult the charity about making a bequest to ensure you are using the correct language and information.

Consult a Lawyer

While a bequest may sound relatively simple, it's important to consult a lawyer to ensure it is written properly. Your lawyer will help you arrange a bequest properly and in a way that benefits all parties involved. The estate litigation lawyers at Catanese & Wells can help you develop the right gift for you and your estate. Contact us today: 818.707.0407.

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