How Do I Include My Charitable Giving Wishes in My Estate Plan in Massachusetts?

For many individuals, charitable giving is not just an act of generosity but also a reflection of their values and desires to leave a lasting impact. When considering one’s legacy, many want to ensure that their favorite charities or causes are beneficiaries of their estate. We understand the importance of these desires and the need to translate them effectively into your estate plan.


Basics of Charitable Bequests in Massachusetts Estate Plans

At its core, a charitable bequest is a testamentary gift, which means it is a donation made through your will, coming into effect upon your passing. It represents an effective way to support organizations and causes that resonate with your values.

  1. Specific vs. Residuary Bequests: In Massachusetts, you have the option to specify a fixed amount, a particular asset, or a percentage of your estate as a bequest. Alternatively, you can opt for a residuary bequest, where your chosen charity receives the remainder of your estate after all other obligations and bequests are satisfied.
  2. Tax Implications in Massachusetts: Charitable bequests can be a strategic way to manage estate taxes. The value of your charitable bequest is deductible for estate tax purposes, meaning it can potentially reduce the taxable amount of your estate. By smartly incorporating charitable bequests, your heirs may inherit more, and your chosen charity benefits as well, making it a win-win scenario.


The Versatility of Trusts for Charitable Giving in Massachusetts

Trusts are legal entities you can set up to hold assets, be it for beneficiaries or charitable endeavors. When it comes to charity, two types of trusts are particularly notable in Massachusetts:

  1. Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT): A CRT is a unique vehicle where you transfer assets into the trust, and the trust then provides a regular income stream to you or your designated beneficiaries. This can be for a specified number of years or for the beneficiaries’ lifetime. After this term concludes, any remaining assets in the trust are given to your chosen charity. In addition to contributing to the gratitude found in your donation, you may also benefit from tax deductions when the trust is established.
  2. Charitable Lead Trust (CLT): This operates somewhat inversely to the CRT. When you establish a CLT, the charity receives regular income payments from the trust for a set duration. Once this period concludes, the remaining assets revert to your heirs or designated beneficiaries. CLTs can be a strategic way to transfer wealth to the next generation while simultaneously supporting charitable causes, at a potentially reduced tax cost.

Both these trusts offer a degree of flexibility and can be structured to suit your distinct goals, financial landscape, and philanthropic desires. Working with experienced attorneys, you can craft trusts that serve your vision, uphold your legacy, and support causes close to your heart.


Documenting Specific Purposes for Your Gift

To ensure that your donation is used exactly as you intend, it is essential to be clear and specific in your estate plan about the purpose of your gift. For instance, if you wish to donate to a university, do you want the funds used for scholarships, research, infrastructure, or another purpose? By detailing your wishes, you can ensure that your legacy is used in a manner that aligns with your values and intentions.


Regularly Reviewing and Updating Your Charitable Wishes

It is vital to periodically review your charitable giving plans, especially when there are changes in the charity’s status, your financial situation, or in state laws. Regular reviews ensure that your charitable intentions remain relevant and effective. At Casey Lundregan Burns, P.C., we assist our clients in staying updated and making necessary adjustments to ensure their wishes remain intact.


Work with the Compassionate Attorneys at Casey Lundregan Burns

Including charitable giving in your estate plan requires precision and a deep understanding of your wishes. With over 80 years of experience guiding families in Massachusetts, the Casey Lundregan Burns team is here to help ensure your charitable desires are accurately represented in your estate plan. To find out more about how we can assist you, please reach out to us for a case evaluation online or call us at (978) 878-3519.