• The Aspire to Give® Blog

Almost everyone is familiar with Legacy Giving. It is the passing of financial assets and property at death. Whether we like it or not, at death our financial assets and property are passed on. Legacy Giving can be highly intentional. However oftentimes, it is not intentional and the consequences of unintended Legacy Giving can be dire. But if we receive good advice, put some thought into what our legacy goals are and understand our options, we can prevent a lot of the unintended consequences that hurt our families and relationships. Additional costs that may result from a lack of planning ahead include financial stress, extra cost, time, hassle, and the payment of unnecessary taxes and fees.

Let's first look at some examples of Legacy Giving that will help us, as donors, relate to the concept and get us thinking about our own plans. Since Legacy Giving is about the passing of financial assets and property at death, there are already a number of examples that we come across daily. For example, beneficiary designations on our IRAs insurance provide the opportunity to be very intentional with our Legacy Giving. Other examples of Legacy Giving may include bequests in our wills, the titling of our homes and real estate, and the use of child trusts.

Since we are talking about the charitable aspects of Legacy Giving, there are many tools and techniques that are available to fulfill your charitable intent. For example, charitable gift annuities, donor-advised funds, and charitable lead trust and charitable remainder trust all serve specific purposes. Life insurance policies and retirement accounts such as regular IRAs and 401ks are also tools that can be used to fulfill charitable intent.

Since Legacy Giving occurs at death, you, as a donor, will have some kind of impact. It will be either intentional or unintentional. There is a great deal of personal satisfaction and joy in planning your giving legacy; especially if done with thought, planning, and professional guidance. You can tailor your legacy to have a specific social impact. This impact can range from bettering others' lives, improving the environment, or having an impact on a specific cause, passion or nonprofit that is important to you. You can also have a tremendous impact by perpetuating family values and passing on family heirlooms and memories. If charitable giving is important to you as a donor, and you would like to see this value perpetuity passed on to your family, your children and grandchildren, intentional legacy planning is a good way to accomplish this. It can be used to give you joy and satisfaction while perpetuating family values and simultaneously helping those causes that are important to you.

To help facilitate the perpetuation of family values through charitable Legacy Giving, it is important to engage your children and grandchildren in a way that is best suited for your family circumstances. An advisor in philanthropy can provide the guidance, tools, and techniques used to incorporate a charitable Legacy Giving component in your overall estate plan. By integrating your Legacy Giving in your estate plan, you should also ensure the administrative structures and details are addressed. This will ensure your charitable intent is fulfilled and your estate is passed timely and efficiently avoiding unnecessary administrative hassles, extra costs, and family confusion or discord.

In comparison to Stewardship Giving and Impact Opportunity Giving, Legacy Giving is a one-time event. As a one-time event, and because you will not be around, investing time and thought in creating your own personal and family legacy now is crucial. When creating your personal Legacy Giving plan, remember families, situations, and the tax laws may change. Hence your charitable Legacy Giving plan should be reviewed every 3-5 years or in the event of some other significant change such as the birth of a child or grandchild.

Coming up next: How to use a donor advised fund (DAF) to enhance your personal legacy.


©2018 Aspire to Give®. All Rights Reserved. Greg Doepke is a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® and a Certified Financial Planner®. Greg serves on the Board of Directors for the International Association for Advisors in Philanthropy and as the Philanthropist in Residence at Auburn University’s Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies. As the founder of Aspire to Give® Greg educates and equips individuals, families, business owners, and foundations with both traditional and leading-edge philanthropic tools and techniques for smart, meaningful, and impactful giving. You can contact Greg at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Disclosure: Greg Doepke is the founder and principal of Aspire to Give®, a social enterprise that donates 100% of profits to charity.
The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are not representative of the views of ACG Advisory Services, Inc. or the Actuarial Consulting Group, Inc. of Midlothian, Virginia. Each client and prospective client agrees, as a condition of precedent to his/her/its access to Aspire to Give®’s website to release and hold harmless ACG Advisory Services, Inc. and Actuarial Consulting Group, Inc., their officers, directors, owners, employees, and agents from any and all adverse consequences resulting from any of his/her/its actions and/or omissions which are independent of his/her/its receipt of personalized advice from Aspire to Give® or Gregory W. Doepke.