There have been many changes in estate planning over the past decades. In the past, people generally passed on their assets to children and grandchildren. Now, with many people choosing not to marry and/or have children, there has been a shift toward bequeathing assets to charitable organizations.
This requires careful estate planning. That is something that many Americans put off, even in their senior years. One study found that only three-quarters of people over 75 have a will. Just making a will is generally not enough, however. You want to choose the appropriate person to be the executor of your estate.
Even people with children and grandchildren often leave part of their estate to charitable organizations. People want to make a difference after they are gone and create a legacy by leaving their assets to organizations and causes about which they feel passionately. One estate-planning attorney notes some important questions to ask yourself. These include, “Who do I owe my success to? What values do I want to reflect? How do I want to pay back the organizations I believe in?”
For people who have causes and organizations to which they already contribute, those are the groups they often include in their will or trust. Sometimes people leave money to their alma mater, a religious organization or a group that has changed their lives. Some leave assets to colleagues or friends.
Researching charitable organizations that will receive your money, both during your lifetime and after, is important. Websites like CharityNavigator.org provide information about what percentage of an organization’s money is spent on administrative expenses and fundraising, and how much actually goes towards the programs and services it is designed to deliver.
As the director of development for a cancer center noted, the process of bequeathing your estate is “a move from success to significance.” He says, “Estate planning is really reflecting on your legacy. What do you want to be remembered for?”
While all of this may seem daunting, Florida estate planning attorneys can help you determine how you want your assets to be used after you’re gone. They can also help you ensure that those who depend upon you (for example, children, pets and elderly relatives) are cared for in the way you want them to be. Estate planning puts you in control of what’s important to you.
Source: The New York Times, “In Estate Planning, Family Isn’t Always First” Caitlin Kelly, May. 02, 2014