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No Time like the Present to Update Your Estate Plan

August is national “Make a Will Month,” and the publicity surrounding this designation may prompt you to speak to your professional advisor to ensure your affairs are in good order. Even if you have already established an estate plan and executed corresponding legal documents, it’s always helpful to keep estate plans up to date and to review plans with your advisors on a regular basis.  
 
Indeed, despite the many cautionary tales arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic, most Americans do not have a will. It’s not only important to maintain a will to disperse assets to dependents and others, but also to carry out one’s charitable intentions through a bequest which is a provision in your will that designates a gift to a specific person or entity such as the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation. In most cases, a bequest directs that a specific dollar amount, a percentage of your estate, specific property or the remainder of the donor’s estate be given, upon your death (or the death of you and your spouse). 
 
Research reveals fascinating psychological factors behind a person’s decision to leave a bequest in the first place, which helps to understand the motivation for leaving a gift to a charitable organization in a will or trust. Not surprisingly, altruism has long been one of those factors. Bequests to charity are not a new idea. Examples of high profile estate gifts date back centuries. Some of you may be familiar with the bequests of Benjamin Franklin, who established testamentary charitable trusts dedicated to supporting Boston and Philadelphia tradesmen, as well as a Pennsylvania-wide fund to support communities across the state.  In fact, LVCF holds some of Benjamin Franklin’s bequest in a fund to benefit Northampton, Lehigh and Monroe Counties!  Now, that’s the power of endowment and building a legacy beyond your lifetime!  
 
Of the $485 billion given to charity by Americans in 2021, according to Giving USA, 9.5% of that giving came from bequests–that’s $46 billion. Giving USA’s data visualization tool illustrates the ebbs and flows of bequest giving, which has long been a significant component of philanthropy. 
 
Our team at LVCF welcomes the opportunity to work with you and your professional advisors to establish bequests to your funds at the community foundation through a will or trust or through a beneficiary designation on a qualified retirement plan or life insurance policy, including providing you with proper bequest language to ensure alignment with your intentions. We look forward to working with you to establish your philanthropic legacy. Contact Carrie Nedick at: carre@lvcfoundaton.org.