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Estate Planning Newsletter

  • Who Takes Care of Your Estate After You Die?
    When a person dies, a personal representative must be appointed to manage and distribute the decedent’s estate. Types of Personal Representatives A personal representative is any of the following:... Read more.
  • Probate: Settling Affairs After Death
    Probate, a Latin term meaning “to prove the will,” is a court-supervised process that settles a person’s affairs after death. To ensure that the decedent’s final matters and wishes are handled correctly... Read more.
  • The Charitable Deduction for Non-Resident Aliens
    Taxpayers who make contributions to qualified charitable organizations are entitled to a tax benefit in the form of a charitable deduction on their income taxes. However, the issue becomes more complex when a non-U.S. citizen makes a... Read more.
  • Reverse Mortgages for Enhancing Retirement
    Many are familiar with the concept of a mortgage, where an individual makes monthly payments to a lender. However, for those who qualify, there is another type of mortgage called a “reverse mortgage” (RM), where the lender... Read more.
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Offering Your Estate to a Charity

It is possible to set up a trust for charitable purposes. Charitable trusts are quite common, but certain requirements must be met.

Purpose of a Charitable Gift

Reasons for charitable gifts funded through a trust include the desire to:

  • Help relieve poverty
  • Help the elderly
  • Advance a religion
  • Benefit educational establishments
  • Aid with the construction or maintenance of public property (such as a park)
  • Prevent animal cruelty

How Are Beneficiaries Designated?

In general, beneficiaries of charitable gifts must have a broader scope:

  • Cannot be specifically named people
  • Can be a class of persons
  • May be institutions

In some cases, a charitable gift may be given to a non-charitable organization. However, there must be a charitable intent; otherwise the trust is invalid as a charitable trust.

Supervision & Regulation

In some states, the office of the Attorney General oversees charitable trust activity. The Attorney General’s duties in this regard include:

  • Maintaining a register of charitable corporations, trustees, and trusts
  • Investigating transactions relating to charitable trusts
  • Enforcing charitable trusts
  • Recovering property on behalf of a charitable trust

Cy Pres Doctrine

If your charitable wishes cannot be fulfilled for some reason, the appropriate court will attempt to carry out your wishes by giving the property to an organization with a related charitable purpose. For example, a charitable trust set up to eradicate polio may instead be given to aid a pediatric foundation.

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