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Giving While Living

If charity is part of your legacy plan, the best time to start giving back could be right now. Spending on other people is one of the most rewarding ways we can use our money. And seeing your generosity in action might give you some ideas on how to improve your legacy planning and Return on Life for your beneficiaries.

 

Here are three ways you can kickstart your legacy plan and take a more active role in your long-term charitable goals.

 

1. Solve a local problem.

 

The issues in the world are so great right now that many smaller concerns can slip through the cracks. Somewhere in your community right now there is a park in disrepair, a vital organization or program that's hurting for funds, or a group of people whose needs aren't being met. You could coordinate with other concerned citizens and local leaders on an action plan or start your own charitable organization that's focused on filling that void. If your initial efforts fall short, or if solving one problem reveals more issues, you can recalibrate your plans -- and your giving strategy -- in the service of more permanent solutions. Being a force for positive change in your community might even inspire similar acts of charity and kindness among your neighbors.

 

2. Donate your time.

 

Charities depend on passionate people almost as much as they depend on donations. Whatever your professional background may be, it's likely that there's a cause that can benefit from your skills and knowledge during a few weekly volunteer shifts. If you're also donating to a place where you volunteer, you'll gain a "behind-the-scenes" perspective on how your money is being spent, and perhaps on ways that the organization could be using its resources more effectively. And if you're still working full time, volunteering can also be a great glide path during your transition into retirement. As your career begins winding down, you can use your charitable goals to create a new retirement schedule that will keep you active and engaged.

 

3. Empower your loved ones.

 

Depending on the laws in your place of residence and what your giving goals look like, there are many options for distributing your wealth to your heirs. You might consider outright gifts, such as helping with the downpayment on a house or car. If grandchildren are on the way, you might open savings or investment accounts in their names. If you're considering leaving behind a sizable amount of money to an adult relative, gift them a smaller amount and see how responsibly they manage their “pre-inheritance.” Perhaps your generosity will open up opportunities for you to pass on some of your wisdom around gaining, managing, and growing wealth. Or, you might decide that rather than leaving money to loved ones directly, a family trust might be a more efficient way to preserve your wishes.

 

You could also establish a family charitable organization and start involving your heirs in its management. Have a family conversation about the causes that are nearest to your hearts and how you can use your family's resources to make a lasting impact. More than just leaving money to your loved ones, you’ll also be leaving them with a real sense of purpose and a deeper understanding of what was really important to you.

 

Charitable giving of any kind will raise some important financial planning issues, starting with the tax ramifications for you, your estate, and your beneficiaries. Establishing trusts or family charities will require even more complex planning. Our interactive Life-Centered Planning tools can help you clarify your charitable goals and so that we can work together on the best strategies for preserving your legacy.

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