Make the Ask

Posted on: June 16th, 2011

Your estate planning clients are also prospects for charitable giving. Some clients come in, motivated to include some charitable giving in their planning. Many, though, would make charitable gifts if only asked.

Tax Benefits

There can be many tax benefits for charitable giving, both for estate taxes and income taxes. Charitable gifts will reduce the size of the taxable estate for estate tax purposes, and can allow a client to completely avoid or minimize their estate tax liability. Gifts of certain types of assets can minimize a client’s income tax consequences. For example, gifts of IRA assets to a charity can avoid the deferred income tax liability that would otherwise be paid if the IRA assets were distributed to individual, non-charitable beneficiaries.

Expression of Values

While the tax benefits may be substantial, for most clients, tax benefits will not be the motivating reason they choose to make a charitable distribution from their estate. For many of our clients, a charitable bequest is a way for the client to continue support of a church, charity, or cause that has been important to them during their lifetime. It is a way for them to express to their family and loved ones the values that they hold dear. It is a way to leave a true legacy— beyond merely the amount of money and assets that they are leaving their loved ones.

Make the Ask

Make it a habit to ask if your client has any desire to support a charitable cause, either now or with a gift after death. Include a question or two on your intake form or ask in your initial interview and review appointments. Help your client see the different approaches available to charitable giving. Help them identify methods of giving that will allow them to reach their goals and objectives. Many will give if only they are asked.

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