Wills & Trusts

Why Give?

Charitable giving is not only for the wealthy!
Charitable organizations need financial assistance from people like you to continue their work. More than 80 percent of Americans contribute to the nonprofit groups of their choice throughout their lifetimes. But according to research conducted in 2000, only around eight percent of people chose to continue this support through a charitable bequest.

By making bequests and other “planned gifts,” you can continue to help organizations that are making an important difference in your community.

What better way to thank the people or organizations that have had an impact on your life, than to make a contribution from your estate through a bequest?

Gifts large and small are important. Charitable giving is not only for the wealthy!

I have children and relatives. Shouldn’t I leave my entire estate to them?
This is perhaps the number one cause for reluctance when making a bequest. But you may consider that your heirs are already making a pretty good life on their own, and that you could easily give 10% of your estate to support an organization that has made an impact on your life, and still pass 90% of your estate on to your children and heirs.

Gifts large and small are important. Charitable giving is not only for the wealthy!

Give Through a Will

A charitable bequest is simply a distribution from your estate to a charitable organization through your last will and testament. There are different kinds of bequests. For each, you must use very specific language to indicate the precise direction of your assets, and to successfully carry out your final wishes. This is why we recommend that you consult a lawyer regarding your estate planning, regardless of the size if your estate. It’s important that your heirs not be left fighting over their share of your estate.

If you don’t have a will, the state where you live will control who gets your property by default. State laws are modeled after what the legislature thinks most people will want to do, but what the laws say might not be in line with your wishes. That’s why it’s important that you leave a will, so your wishes can be carried out exactly as you defined them.

You can leave the Eddie Mae Herron Center a percentage of your estate (a “general bequest”) or you can leave a “specific bequest” of a particular item or property. Another option is a “residuary bequest” where you leave to the Center what’s left of your estate after all your other bequests are dealt with.

Give Through a Trust

What is a Trust?
It’s a legal document that, like a will, contains your instructions for what you want to happen to your assets when you die. But, unlike a will, a living trust avoids probate at death. A revocable intervivos or “living” trust is an important part of the estate plan of many people. Intervivos means “during life,” which is when the trust is established. Revocable means that the creator, also known as the grantor, of the trust can change the terms of the trust or revoke it completely during his or her lifetime. Assets in trust are not part of your will; they are transferred according to the instructions in the trust document.

With a trust you can, for example, leave your assets to continue to care for your surviving spouse while they live, then transfer assets from the trust to a charitable organization such as the Eddie Mae Herron Center upon the death of your spouse.

You can even place your assets in trust now, before you die, so that the trustee (a bank or other institution) takes care of your bills and investments for you now, then distributes the assets as you wish after your death.

Revocable Living Trust
A living trust is an arrangement you create during your lifetime to provide for yourself and your family both before and after your death. It has built-in flexibility that can work very well with your overall estate plans. Though there are many advantages to using this estate planning tool, you can still have a will, too, if you wish.

Some Characteristics of a Trust

Reduction of probate costs
Although you can enjoy the use of the assets you place in a trust during your lifetime, a living trust removes those assets from your estate for probate purposes. Therefore, you save the probate and administration costs you would incur if those same assets were distributed by the terms of your will.

Speedy Distribution of Trust Assets
By establishing a living trust during your lifetime, you are setting up a method of managing and distributing your assets. Because a living trust escapes the probate process, the plan of distribution you describe is set in motion immediately at your death. There are none of the delays that occur under distribution by will. With a trust plan, you can be sure your assets ultimately will benefit the charitable institution, such as ours, that means so much to you.

Flexibility of Planning
Another advantage of a living trust is the overall flexibility it provides. Most living trusts are revocable. This gives you the freedom to amend, add to or even completely revoke the trust agreement as you wish.

Freedom of Control
Living trusts give you the freedom to name both the beneficiaries and the trustee. Most likely you will name yourself as the trustee during your lifetime and maintain the right to appoint and select successor trustees and beneficiaries. You also control the income and principal and how much of it you wish to use during your lifetime.

Investment Management
You may choose to appoint a professional trustee such as a bank trust department or trust institution. This frees you from the worry of the day-to-day management of assets, yet you still may direct investment goals, including instructing your trustee to change investment strategies.

If you wish, you can give your trustee broad powers and allow the trustee to make the decisions, do all the paperwork and collect the dividends and interest and credit them properly. You would receive periodic and detailed accounting statements, including year-end data for tax purposes. This means you could travel extensively, knowing that your trustee would be managing all the details of your trust assets. Should you suffer a prolonged illness, your trustee could even pay your medical and household bills.

Confidential Trust Terms
One of the most favorable aspects of a living trust is the privacy it allows. Unlike a will, no one, other than the beneficiaries, needs to know the contents of a trust.

Charitable Contributions
Charitable contributions may be made easily with a living trust. Once your needs and those of your family are met, trust assets can be distributed to charitable organizations like The Eddie Mae Herron Center.

Some Final Thoughts
Your philanthropic motives must blend with your personal needs and tax planning. There is rarely a single route to your estate planning goals.

A living trust gives you flexibility while you receive income from your assets during your lifetime, and it can provide asset management after your death.