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What is a planned gift and how will it help me, my church, and the diocese?

Note: always consult with your lawyer or financial advisor before you make any final estate planning decisions. It is equally important to discuss your decisions with family members so that they may understand and support your decisions.

A planned gift is any gift that a donor plans and thoughtfully arranges with their church, diocese, or any charitable organization. It may be an outright gift of cash, but frequently it is made with stock or other property. Often one completes a planned gift over several month or years – even after one’s death.

Given the economy we feel we must be cautious with our finances - so it is hard for us to be generous. Do we have options for making a planned gift?

Planned giving is precisely for generous spirited people who may not have much cash liquidity. You may actually increase monthly income during your lifetime by making an irrevocable planned gift to your church or diocese.

Recently the tax laws governing the use of the balance of your IRA for charitable giving at the time of death have become more lenient. Usually gifts of stock or from your IRA are tax free, and often help to reduce your income tax as well.

There is a planned gift to fit everyone’s needs. Most planned gifts are in the form of a bequest, a charitable remainder trust, a gift annuity, or life insurance policy. You make the commitment now, but the gift to the church comes after you die. For example, anyone may name the church to receive a bequest in his or her will.

You said there are many ways to plan a planned gift to my church or diocese – can you be more specific? (For more detailed information about each of these options, please click on the underlined words.)

Most commonly, donors leave a bequest of cash, land, or securities in their will.

charitable gift annuity or a charitable remainder trust pay the donor and the donor’s spouse money during lifetime and then become a remainder gift to the church upon the death of the donors.

Naming the church as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or of retirement accounts is another gift planning opportunity.

Gifts of appreciated stock or property can be an excellent form of gift planning.


Laura Hnat