A Publication of WTVP

Planning for the distribution of your wealth can take many paths.

If you had the opportunity to leave a legacy that included making resources available to help family members lead more comfortable lives, or to help a favorite charity continue its mission—and save estate taxes while doing so—wouldn’t you do it?

In the book Cultivating the Middle-Class Millionaire, authors Russ Alan Prince and David A. Geracioti studied more than 850 individuals with a net worth of between $1 million and $10 million. Their research revealed that nearly 38 percent of those interviewed had not updated their estate plans in the past six to ten years; another 35 percent had not done so in three to five years.

Think for a moment about your own situation. When was the last time your estate plan was updated? What has changed since then? At a minimum, the tax laws in the United States have changed, and will undoubtedly continue to do so. Are you making full use of current IRS rules pertaining to estates and charitable giving to help optimize the impact of your legacy?

In addition to tax changes, you may have experienced significant changes in your professional and/or personal life. If so, does your existing estate plan reflect your current intentions and values? A career move or promotion could mean higher annual income and other forms of enhanced compensation. Your family makeup may have changed: you may have gotten married or divorced, had a child or grandchild, or lost a loved one. In terms of your charitable intentions, perhaps you no longer feel passionate about a charity or cause that you had previously included in your estate. There is much you can do for those you love and the causes you are passionate about, if you take the time to plan.

Create a Unique Giving Legacy
Planning for the distribution of your wealth can take many paths, depending on your intentions and personal giving style. Family groups may work together to channel their charitable goals and build a philanthropic legacy that can be passed down through generations. Entrepreneurs may approach charitable giving with the same drive and commitment they apply to building their businesses. Others may approach philanthropy as an investment, and base their giving decisions on disciplined research and a long-term commitment to a particular organization.

Whatever your charitable aspirations, when selecting a giving strategy, donors with significant wealth must evaluate a number of factors, such as their need for current income, the desired level of involvement for themselves and other family members today and in the future, and important tax considerations.

Vehicles to Drive Your Giving Agenda
There are many strategies and techniques that can be tailored to help achieve most, if not all, of your charitable giving objectives. Donor-advised funds, family foundations, charitable trusts and gift annuities round out the field of essential options available to donors and their families.

Including charitable giving strategies in your estate plan can be an effective way for you and your family to enjoy an income stream during your lives, take advantage of tax savings, and maintain a significant degree of control over assets—all while fulfilling your charitable goals.

If you are creating a charitable giving plan, consider seeking the guidance of an attorney, accountant or other trusted professional who is familiar with trust and estates and nonprofit law. Obtaining assistance from the beginning—and retaining such counsel on a continuing basis—is key to making responsible decisions. iBi

Cathy S. Butler, CFP, CRPC is a financial advisor with the Butler/Luthy Group of Morgan Stanley, located at 401 Main Street, Suite 1000, in Peoria. Learn more at or call (309) 671-2873.