Leaving a legacy: Starting the conversation

OSWEGO - Education, career, family, hobbies – there are many different steps people take to create the life they desire, but there comes a point where people should also start taking steps to define and build the legacy they wish to leave after their lifetime.

There are many ways to distribute assets that will create an influential impact both immediately and after one’s life, but broaching the subject with a financial professional may seem daunting or even uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to be. The vast majority of legacy gifts are simple bequests in a will – a set amount or a percentage of an estate. People just have to decide what charities and how much.

Before digging into the technical terms of planned giving, it is best to take a personal look at defining a legacy. The first question many people ask themselves is, “Am I (are we) in a financially sound position that allows for considering charitable giving options?”

The answer is that people of all economic backgrounds can truly make a difference to a charity they are passionate about. Gifts do not look the same for each person or household. There are numerous options for creating a donation plan that matches a vision, and gifts of any size can truly help to a nonprofit organization and are always welcome.

Defining what a legacy will look like is the next vital step. Consider whom should benefit from a gift; what organizations and missions are most important now and in the future? Discussing and answering these questions will help guide the direction of a legacy, and will narrow down the ways to see a gift used. It is important to note that conveying the exact name, address and contact information for the charity of one’s choice could mean the difference between ensuring a gift would benefit the intended local chapter versus being directed to a regional, state or national level of that organization.

Once people have a clear vision for the impact they want their gift to have, people can begin exploring planned giving options with a financial professional. Since starting the conversation may seem overwhelming, there are a few key topics individuals should be sure to bring up and explore with their advisor.

First, inquire about options for having a legacy take effect now and after one’s lifetime. There are both options to begin planned giving while the donor is alive, as well as multiple ways for gifts to be used upon the donor’s passing. Discussing these options will help to create the timeline of a gift.

Second, ask if qualified charitable distributions are available. A financial planner will be able to explain the options people have for distributions from an IRA that go directly to qualified charities, as well as other ways of giving that fit a personal situation.

Finally, those looking to create a long-lasting impact should inquire about a donor-advised fund, which allows donors to create a type of charitable investment account that can be used over time to support the agencies and causes people care about.

Once a person has arrived at an agreement with their financial advisor on their legacy, they should make a point to talk to family about intentions and wishes. Although this conversation may not be an easy one for some, it will provide people with a piece of mind that their desires will be carried out.

With the recent changes to tax laws, and the intricacies of estate planning, it is important to dig deep into these questions with a financial professional to ensure a legacy is built to meet a vision. Taking time to plan and safeguard a legacy now means less stress a person and their family when it is time to start acting upon the plan to put a legacy into motion.

For more information on planned giving in Oswego County, visit www.oswegoleavealegacy.org.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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