Very flexible tool: Giving Through A Will

The charitable bequest is the most common means chosen to leave assets to qualified charitable organizations and institutions at death. This is because it is so widely known as a vehicle for property transfer.
Whether a simple bequest of cash or a plan that creates trusts for family wealth management while also benefiting a nonprofit recipient, the will is one of the most flexible gift planning tools.

Begin With the Basics

A will that includes one or more charitable recipients is basically no different from other wills. To be valid, the information it contains and the method in which it is executed must qualify under applicable state laws.
The proper name: Charitable institutions may sometimes share the same or very similar names. They may even be located in the same city or state. For this reason, when drafting a will that leaves property to a charitable entity, care must be taken to fully identify the intended recipient of the property.
It may also be useful to include the most recent known address.

Legal Name: Romanian League in Defense of Animals
Current address: PO Box 4674 Crofton MD 21114
Romanian League in Defense of Animals is a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit. Tax ID# 32-0176929

The use of the property: As in bequests to individuals, testators often choose to specify a particular use for their bequests. What is known as “precatory” language may be used to express a preference, or wishes may be stated in such a way that leaves little room for the recipient to determine use.

Most charitable bequests are left to the charitable entity “for the general purposes of the organization in the discretion of its board.” Since it may be many years before the funds are received and the needs of the organization may change in many ways, most donors choose to allow maximum flexibility for the use of the funds bequeathed.

If a donor wishes to restrict the use of a bequest, it is in the best interest of all involved to discuss the intended use with authorized representatives of the institution before the execution of the will.

Limits on the size of charitable bequests: Some states may impose limits on the amounts that can be left to charitable beneficiaries in certain situations.

A spouse and/or children may be entitled to specific percentages of an estate that may not be encroached upon by charitable dispositions. Such restrictions rarely impose barriers in the typical situation, but state laws should be examined if one or more charitable bequests that amount to a substantial portion of an estate are contemplated.

Other than the considerations outlined above, there are generally no limits on the amount of property which may be left for charitable purposes through a will.

Click to download Sample Language Bequest document:

Bequest Sample Language

For additional questions, please contact us:
Mary Paska phone: 410-570-9505 email: