Options abound for leaving a legacy … and ensuring peace of mind

By Lisa Sahady, Regional Director, Arizona Community Foundation

Most of us do not like to think beyond our lifetimes. It can be uncomfortable considering death, let alone talking about what will happen after we’re gone.

For me, these conversations are about how to fulfill a legacy or the charitable wishes of a donor.

It may be hard to believe that a significant number of individuals do not have a will or trust in place. According to a 2020 Gallup survey, only 53% of adults over the age of 50 have a valid will or trust. A person does not need to be of high wealth to have a plan in place. There are several options for an estate plan; you may need to speak with an attorney to determine which option is best for you.

  • Charitable Bequest. Name your favorite charities to receive all or a portion of your estate through your will or trust, reducing estate taxes while creating a charitable legacy.
  • Charitable Gift Annuity. Make a charitable gift, and you and/or someone you designate receive income during your lifetime, with the remainder going to your favorite charity upon your passing, potentially reducing and deferring capital gains tax and reducing probate costs and estate taxes (at the Arizona Community Foundation, we can create a Charitable Gift Annuity for you).
  • Charitable Trusts. A charitable lead trust or several types of charitable remainder trusts create valuable options in estate planning by providing tax savings, a significant gift, and income for either a charity or family members.
  • Life Insurance. Naming your favorite charity or charity as a beneficiary of your insurance policy enables you to create a charitable legacy without invading cash and other assets designated for your heirs.
  • Life Estate. Give your personal residence, ranch, or farm as a gift, occupy the residence or land without disruption, and receive an income tax charitable deduction for the present value of the remainder interest.
  • Retirement Account Assets. Double taxation on retirement plan withdrawals decreases their value for your heirs. Consider providing other assets to heirs and naming your favorite charity or charities as the beneficiary of your retirement accounts. You can save taxes and preserve your hard-earned assets for the good of your community.

Estate planning is not only part of my profession; it is also personal. As a child of aging parents, I have had several conversations on their wishes for after their lifetime. These conversations are not easy, but they are necessary. Each family member feels comfortable knowing what is desired for our parents’ assets and my parents can give to their family as well as to the charities that are important to them. Knowing this brings a smile to my face.

To learn more, visit azfoundation.org.

  • https://news.gallup.com/poll/351500/how-many-americans-have-will.aspx