Talking to clients: Wills, trusts & charitable bequests

August is Make a Will Month, and this may prompt your clients to ask you about whether their affairs are in good order.

Of course, making sure a client has established an estate plan and executed corresponding legal documents is your top priority. Still, it’s always helpful to remind clients to keep their estate plans up to date and review their plans with you on a regular basis.  

While most Americans do not have a will, even those clients who do have estate plans in place may not truly understand the difference between a will and a trust (and the reason they still need a will even if they have a revocable living trust). A client also may not understand that a charitable bequest can be part of an estate plan whether the client’s main estate planning vehicle is a will or whether it is a trust. 

Of the $485 billion given to charity by Americans in 2021, according to Giving USA, 9.5% of that giving came from bequests – that’s $46 billion. Giving USA’s data visualization tool illustrates the ebbs and flows of bequest giving, which has long been a significant component of philanthropy. 

Research reveals fascinating psychological factors behind a person’s decision to leave a bequest in the first place, which helps to understand the motivation for leaving a gift to a charitable organization in a will or trust. Not surprisingly, altruism has long been one of those factors.

Our team stands ready to support you to ensure your clients’ charitable legacy goals are met. We can help you work with your clients to establish bequests to your clients’ funds at NCCF through a will or trust or through a beneficiary designation on a qualified retirement plan or life insurance policy, including providing you with proper bequest language to ensure alignment with your client’s intentions.

Make a Will Month is also a good time to remind your clients that bequests of qualified retirement plans can be extremely tax efficient. Funds flowing directly to a client’s fund at NCCF from a retirement plan after the client’s death will not be subject to income tax or estate tax. 

 We look forward to working with you.