Dwight D. Eisenhower is quoted as saying “in preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” With ever-evolving economic and market conditions as well as changing tax policies, estate planning is more important than ever.

Proper estate planning serves two important goals. First, it provides for your own personal and financial needs. Second, it helps you maximize philanthropic contributions through planned giving. Your estate plan can support beloved charitable causes. Your current and future donations help continue their mission and provide for a lasting legacy.

Planned giving is something you can manage during your life, at your death, and even in the years following your death. While the options are many, here are just a few examples of planned giving techniques you can use to provide for yourself and for your favorite charities.

Gift During Your Lifetime: Depending upon your current income and tax situation, individuals may make charitable contributions to qualifying organizations and use the gift as a deduction on annual tax returns during their lifetime.

Make a Bequest in Your Will: This option allows for you to make a significant charitable contribution to an organization without diminishing assets available during your lifetime. Contributions at death are also tax deductible for federal estate tax purposes.

Designate a Charity as a Beneficiary: You can name a charity as the beneficiary (in full or part) of a retirement plan or IRA. Forms can easily be obtained from your financial advisor to make such designations. The same action can be taken on non-qualified investment accounts by using the Transfer on Death (TOD) directive. For taxable investments, the TOD is an important tool for avoiding probate, minimizing estate tax, and providing for the benefit of a charity.

Establish a Charitable Trust: One example, the charitable remainder trust, can be used to provide income to the donor during his or her lifetime, but upon death, trust assets are transferred to the charity. Assets held in trust are set aside in a tax-exempt status and can be sold without incurring capital gains tax.

Any one of these options may work for you.  Not only will you feel great about supporting your favorite cause, but you and your heirs will benefit from advantageous tax deductions.  It’s important to note that individual situations will vary, and crafting an appropriate strategy will require the help of professionals.

Get started planning your future today!