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Creating a philanthropic legacy with an estate plan

For some people in Florida, philanthropic giving could be an important part of an estate plan. In addition to creating a legacy, it can save money on taxes and benefit family members as well as the charity.

Someone who is unsure as to where to direct their philanthropic giving for an estate plan should consider what places they are already donating to. They should also think about what issues worry them and what their values are. Taking all of these factors into consideration may help guide them toward a decision. They may want to seek input from family members as well.

The person will then need to decide what assets to give and how to give them. These assets could be money or property such as real estate or even a piece of art. In part, what assets are donated will depend upon the charity itself. Smaller organizations may not be set up to take non-monetary donations.

Using a will to make the donation can mean losing some benefits. For some people, a better choice might be a foundation or a charitable trust.

One may want to talk to an attorney about other elements of estate planning as well. There could be reasons to set up more than one trust. For example, a trust could provide for a loved one with special needs without impacting that person's access to benefits. In blended families, estate planning may be particularly complicated. Estate owners should be aware of common errors such as failing to update the beneficiary designations for life insurance, retirement and other accounts. This could result in an ex-spouse getting those assets instead of a current spouse or children.

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