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Estate Planning Newsletter

  • The Passing of Assets to Named Beneficiaries from a Totten Trust
    A decedent’s assets may be transferred upon their death to their heirs or other beneficiaries through probate. “Probate” is the legal process by which a court determines who receives a decedent’s assets under... Read more.
  • Donations of Property and Tax Deductions
    The U.S. government has long encouraged citizens to contribute to charity. One method of encouraging philanthropic giving is the allowance of deductions from income for federal tax purposes for donations to “qualified”... Read more.
  • Affixing a Value on an Estate
    Assets owned by a person at the time of their death, whether real or personal property, is commonly referred to as the decedent’s “estate.” After the person dies, the property or proceeds from the sale of such property... Read more.
  • Tax Issues Related to Contaminated Property
    The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) imposes liability for the investigation and cleanup of contaminated real property without regard to whether the landowner created or allowed the... Read more.
Estate Planning News Links

Offering Your Estate to a Charity

It is possible to set up a trust for charitable purposes. Charitable trusts are quite common, but certain requirements must be met.

Purpose of a Charitable Gift

Reasons for charitable gifts funded through a trust include the desire to:

  • Help relieve poverty
  • Help the elderly
  • Advance a religion
  • Benefit educational establishments
  • Aid with the construction or maintenance of public property (such as a park)
  • Prevent animal cruelty

How Are Beneficiaries Designated?

In general, beneficiaries of charitable gifts must have a broader scope:

  • Cannot be specifically named people
  • Can be a class of persons
  • May be institutions

In some cases, a charitable gift may be given to a non-charitable organization. However, there must be a charitable intent; otherwise the trust is invalid as a charitable trust.

Supervision & Regulation

In some states, the office of the Attorney General oversees charitable trust activity. The Attorney General’s duties in this regard include:

  • Maintaining a register of charitable corporations, trustees, and trusts
  • Investigating transactions relating to charitable trusts
  • Enforcing charitable trusts
  • Recovering property on behalf of a charitable trust

Cy Pres Doctrine

If your charitable wishes cannot be fulfilled for some reason, the appropriate court will attempt to carry out your wishes by giving the property to an organization with a related charitable purpose. For example, a charitable trust set up to eradicate polio may instead be given to aid a pediatric foundation.

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