The Easiest, Do-It-Yourself Way to Create a Legacy Gift to Charity

Bequests through a will or living trust are among the most common kind of legacy gift made to charity.

But in terms of ease for a donor, bequests are not the simplest.  A bequest requires the use of an attorney to draft the bequest language and insert it into your will or trust.

If you are interested in leaving a legacy to your favorite charity, there is a far simpler way to do it.  And it doesn’t cost you anything or require anyone else’s help:

The IRA beneficiary designation.

If you have a traditional or Roth IRA, you need to name a beneficiary to receive those assets when you pass away.  (Aside: when was the last time you checked your beneficiary designations?)  You can name family, friends – or charity.

Naming a charity to receive some or all of your IRA is the easiest way to create a legacy gift.  Simply request a “change of beneficiary” form from your IRA custodian, make the change, and submit it.  That’s all.  100% do-it-yourself.

Keep in mind these tips:

  • To avoid confusion among similar-sounding organizations, confirm the exact legal name of the charity or charities you are naming.  Include the charity’s federal tax ID number as well.
  • If you are concerned about disinheriting heirs, use percentages – name heirs to receive a certain percentage of the IRA, and name charity to receive the remaining percentage.  Life insurance may be an option to replace what is going to charity.

For many people – particularly those who wish to avoid attorneys – an IRA beneficiary designation is hands down the easiest way to leave a lasting legacy to the causes you hold dear.

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