Giving to charity when you die

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 Q. I’m thinking of leaving some of my money to charity when I die. I have one niece, but she doesn’t need all my money. What’s the best way to make sure the charities get what I want them to get?

A. You’ve got plenty of options.

The planning techniques that will work best for you depend on your objectives and the size of your estate, said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park.

“One option may be to leave assets to a charity through a will or revocable trust as a bequest,” she said. “Other options include split interest vehicles where the reader or the niece are lifetime beneficiaries and the charity is a remainder beneficiary.”

Split interest vehicles include charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trust, Whitenack said.

In addition to the creation of charitable trusts and designating charities in a will, individuals can now also designate charities as beneficiaries of IRAs, Whitenack said.

“Leaving assets to charity may result in federal and/or New Jersey estate tax deductions,” she said. “If this is an important consideration for the reader, he or she should make sure that the charity actually qualifies for the tax deduction.”

Plus, you should find out whether the charity can accept the gift in the form you want to give it.

“For example, the charity may prefer that property be sold or liquidated before it receives the asset,” Whitenack said.

You should consult with an estate planning attorney to discuss the best strategies for charitable donations based on your particular circumstances.

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This story was first posted in July 2015. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.