Leaving a financial legacy to support your family or a worthy charity shows how much you care. If this is one of your lifetime goals, there are several ways to help you make a real difference in the lives of others.
Evaluating life insurance
If you’re at retirement age your family may not need the death benefit from your fully-funded life insurance policy to pay bills. Therefore, you may want to think about renaming the policy beneficiary to a charity or trust.
Communicating your wishes
Family dynamics and expectations differ in every family. If you plan to make a charitable donation, you might consider how to communicate these wishes to your family. This may be especially important if you’re unsure how they feel about your intent for the distribution of your wealth.
In some cases, your financial professional can help you initiate this discussion with family members. Make sure the entire family is on board to avoid misunderstandings later.
Giving to charity
Whether you’re considering making a donation to your alma mater or a religious or nonprofit organization, charitable giving provides assets for organizations that deserve support. Always discuss these gifts with a professional tax advisor to take advantage of the potential tax benefits.
Writing a will
A will can help ensure that any type of estate is distributed according to your preferences, not based on a state mandate or statute. It doesn’t need to be a complicated legal document, but be sure that your intentions are documented.
This may also be a good time to confirm that your life insurance or IRA beneficiaries are current and accurate.
Distributions made through a will are “once and done,” providing a directive for your assets. For those with requirements for assets to carry on, a trust may be a possibility, so these assets can continue to provide benefit.
Establishing a trust
If leaving a legacy to your family is a high priority, consider a family trust. A trust makes it possible to distribute assets based on the grantor’s preferences and set a percentage for your grandchildren so they each receive funds on a periodic basis.
These assets can be distributed while the grantor is alive or after that person is gone—perhaps even for generations to come, with a trustee directing the distribution.
One example is a special needs trust. In a family where a son or daughter has special needs, and the parents’ assets may be needed for that individual’s care, the parents could create a special needs trust to ensure that the assets are available to be distributed.
This could potentially include ways to maximize state benefits given the needs of that child, perhaps 30 to 40 years after a parent’s death.
Planning for life
Planning for your legacy is worth considering whether you’re a recent college graduate with a desire to give back to your alma mater, an adult in your 30s who wants to support an important cause or a 60-year-old approaching retirement with assets beyond what you need for your own retirement security.
If you want to pass savings on to your children or grandchildren, working with a financial professional on legacy planning strategies can help make your wishes a reality—in ways that benefit both you and the recipients of your generosity.