The holidays are that time of year when family members, often from far and wide, come together to celebrate with one another. It is a time for remembering the past, celebrating the future, and observing the family legacy.
For many family members, that legacy includes a wish to continue helping others even once they’ve gone. Often, that means establishing an estate plan that ensures the family is cared for. That plan may also include care for others beyond the family – a donation to a charity or charities, known as a legacy gift.
“The power of legacy giving means a lot to nonprofits,” said Travis Williams, vice president of advancement at the Springs Rescue Mission. “It’s an important way that an individual can carry on their legacy. They really do provide good for individuals beyond their lifetime through those estate gifts. They may never know how many people they’ve helped, but they have for sure helped many, many people. Legacy gifts provide such great hope to the organization and hope for those that they serve.”
“The biggest benefit is you get to pass on your values into the world,” she said.” If you’re passionate about homelessness, you get to give to charities that take care of the homeless. If you’re passionate about animals, there are organizations that take great care of animals. The primary benefit of giving to charity through your estate plan is doing good in the world in line with your values, and then there is a secondary tax benefit.”
If you would like to add a legacy gift to your estate plan, click here to discover how the Hammond Law Group can help.
Making Charitable Giving a Part of an Estate Plan
Charitable giving can have a positive impact on estate taxes. However, the current estate tax exemption is over $5 million per individual. So, for the vast majority of people, saving on estate taxes is not the motivating factor for charitable giving.
“Some clients want to leave a legacy bigger than themselves, that’s when we start talking about charitable giving,” said Hammond. “It’s all based on somebody’s unique situation and goals. Charitable giving is really a solution and an opportunity for people who want to do good in the world.”
Often, people are concerned that leaving a portion of an estate to a charity is somehow harming their heirs. But the truth is that heirs are not left out of the equation. In fact, leaving money to a charity can help establish a family legacy.
“It can really boost the family dynamics where the children are learning about a passion of their parents or another relative,” said Williams. “And then they come down to the Mission to learn more, often they start getting passionate about the charity.
“We’ve seen several cases where that charitable heart moves generation to generation. People become engaged and they learn more and they think about the giver. In the right situation, it can really help bring the family together. It’s amazing the transformation that we see in people’s hearts and in their lives through the generosity of others.”
“Sometimes I talk to people and they will say, ‘I would love to leave something to a charity in my estate plan if I had more money. But since we as a married couple only have $2 million, we are just going to leave it to our two children,’” said Hammond. “But, if it’s clear that charitable giving is a priority for them, I ask, ‘how much do your children really need? If you could give one percent of your estate, or $10,000, to a charity, your children still get almost a million each. Or what if you gave 10 percent of your estate to a charity. How many homeless people would that feed, for how long? To have $200,000 donated to charity. How many meals will that provide? And will each of your children be hurting, will they really miss it if they get $900,000 instead of a million?’”
The Real-Life Impact of Giving
“We couldn’t help anybody in this community without individuals who care,” said Williams. “Often I put it this way: We are a conduit of showing the compassion and care in Colorado Springs. We facilitate individuals in this community to be able to help neighbors in need. We can’t move forward with any of our programs without the help.”
Springs Rescue Mission operates the only year-round shelter in Colorado Springs. They are the primary provider of food and shelter and services to the area’s chronically homeless population. In addition to food and shelter, they provide extensive aid, including employment training and transitional housing services.
“The primary work of the Springs Rescue Mission is to help individuals who are experiencing homelessness, poverty, or addiction find a pathway to move forward,” said Williams. “We serve about 800 families every month, providing them poverty relief by giving them food and clothing. We serve about 15,000 meals every month, helping folks who are food insecure with meals. We also provide shelter for approximately 300 individuals each and every night.”
Like charities across the country and world, the Springs Rescue Mission relies on donations to operate. For these charities, a legacy gift is often unexpected and can provide essential resources, especially during those months when giving is low.
“We do get several legacy gifts each and every year, and they mean the world to a nonprofit, they mean the world to us,” said Williams. “When they come in, they can breathe a shot of energy in a nonprofit. They can create a sense of opportunity. Often there are times when we are just hanging by a thread, and we don’t know if we are going to have to readjust staffing or payroll. When an estate gift comes in, it can help us either alleviate that situation or, when we are doing well, it allows us to help more people in need.”