Giving to charity is not only personally rewarding during your lifetime, but may establish a legacy of good will at your death. To encourage the spirit of philanthropy, the federal government allows certain tax deductions for donations made to qualified charities.
Before giving a substantial gift to charity, make sure to plan for your financial needs for later in life. Also consider where individual beneficiaries fit into your estate plan if you plan to make a charitable bequest. Whether you give a dollar amount or a percentage of your estate to a charity may make a large impact on what your other beneficiaries eventually inherit. Giving payment priority to a charity may leave your beneficiaries with less than you expected; or, conversely, giving priority to your beneficiaries may leave nothing for the charity.
Some choose to make one-time gifts to charities either during their lifetime or at their death. However, the following are alternatives for giving to charities that may simplify making multiple gifts over a period of time, investing the funds, or balancing giving to many organizations.
A charitable donor-advised fund is often a less costly and less complex alternative to a private foundation. It is also an excellent way to time your tax-deductible charitable contributions to fit your personal financial situation. An example of this type of donor-advised fund is The T. Rowe Price Program for Charitable GivingSM.* In this case, you would make an irrevocable tax-deductible contribution (subject to IRS limits) to the Program, which is invested in up to six professionally managed investment pools based on your recommendation. You can recommend—immediately and over time—grant distributions from this account to support public charities of your choice. The fund allows you to appoint friends, family members, or trusted professionals as the account's advisor(s) and to name successors to carry on your tradition of charitable giving in the future.
Charitable trusts allow you to support both your favorite charity and your beneficiaries from the same pool of assets. Depending on the charitable trust, you can accomplish the goals of providing both an annual income stream to you or your beneficiaries and a future gift to a charity.
A private foundation is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization managing its own funds or endowments. Trustees or directors oversee the foundation and are required to file informational tax returns with the IRS and pay out at least 5% of the foundation's net assets annually. Private foundations may be costly and difficult to manage, but they allow the most flexibility to trustees.
**The rules for charitable trusts and private foundations are complex, so it is important to consult an experienced estate planning professional to avoid pitfalls and to properly assess the potential advantages and/or disadvantages of including such a trust or foundation in your estate plan.