Like the Magi who brought the Holy Family gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, many of us in the Brandon, Mississippi area are inspired to give to others during the holiday season. Being able to share your wealth with others is a blessing, and it is a task the Palmer & Slay team enjoys helping our estate planning clients with.
Verifying Your Charitable Donation Will Do Good
While we all hope that the gifts we give to others will be put to good use, there are a few things you can do to ensure the money you give to a charity is not going to waste… or worse.
The IRS and FBI warn that charity fraud is on the rise. Instead of doing good work with your donations, fraudsters will happily line their own pockets or use the information you provided while giving your “donation” to steal your identity.
To protect yourself, the FBI recommends you:
- Never let anyone rush you into donating — even if there may be tax benefits to donating before the end of the year.
- Give to established charities or groups whose work you know and trust.
- Be aware of organizations with copycat names or names similar to reputable organizations.
- Be wary of new organizations that claim to aid victims of recent high-profile disasters.
- Give using a check or credit card. If a charity or organization asks you to donate through cash, gift card, virtual currency, or wire transfer, it’s probably a scam.
The agency recommends doing some research on the organizations you intend to donate to even if you think you know them well. These organizations offer reports and ratings about how charitable organizations spend donations and how they conduct business:
Vetting charitable organizations is something the Palmer & Slay team can help you with if you need assistance. We can also help you use the IRS’s Tax-Exempt Organization Search (TEOS) tool to figure out if your donation will be tax deductible.
You Might Want To Include A Charitable Gift In Your Estate Plan
If gifting in order to reduce your taxes is important to you, you may want to formally incorporate charitable gifting into your estate plan. There are a few different ways you can do this:
- A line in your will indicating that you want to leave $X to Charity ABC is the most straightforward option. But it may not be the best way to accomplish your tax-saving goals.
- If you don’t have a specific dollar amount in mind, you can specify that a certain percentage of your estate go to Charity ABC.
- If you don’t know how much your estate will be worth, and you want to be cautious about giving too much to others and not enough to your family, you can choose to leave the residual of your estate to charity. Specific bequests would go to everyone named in your will, and whatever is left over would go to the charity of your choosing.
- When the Palmer & Slay team drafts a specific bequest in a will we always ask if there is a backup person the money should go to if the person named has already passed away. Naming a charity your loved one supports as the backup is a lovely way to honor someone who can no longer accept the gift themself.
- Just as you can name a spouse or other loved one as the beneficiary of your IRA, 401(k), or life insurance policy, you can also designate a charity as your beneficiary.
If you have a particularly large estate that will be subject to estate or inheritance taxes, you may want to take your charitable giving a step further. A charitable remainder trust is an irrevocable trust that allows you to donate a significant sum to charity while collecting annual income from the assets in the trust during your lifetime or for a predetermined number of years.
Preserving Your Wealth. Protecting Your Loved Ones.
The Palmer & Slay team is proud of the work we do to help our clients further their philanthropic goals during the holiday season and at the end of their lives. We love working with people who have a generous spirit and a desire to give back.
If you need help investigating a charity you would like to support or are ready to craft an estate plan that includes charitable gifts, we are ready to work with you. Please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.