Philanthropic and Charitable Planning

When a family has accumulated or inherited wealth beyond its current needs, charitable giving can become an important part of its financial plans. A skilled estate planning attorney can help maximize the impact of your gift, as well as the tax benefits.

The desire to give – to support a charity, to make the world a better place – comes from connecting with our deepest values. This is unquestionably a good thing – maybe the best of things. But it must be done in a disciplined and deliberate fashion, in order to insure that the impulse to do good is applied effectively.

Buchanan & Stouffer helps clients develop comprehensive estate plans that can include philanthropic activities during the client’s lifetime, afterwards, or both. Support of a charity or nonprofit is a deeply personal undertaking, and has implications far beyond the simple provision of funds. As an example, many of our clients wish to engage family members in the administration of their gifts. They want them to understand the human need the gift addresses, and the human impact it can have. In this situation, our lawyers help create an implementation process that communicates positive values to their families, particularly younger generations.

Our approach to charitable planning begins with the simple, but critical, process of asking questions. Before beginning to create the necessary legal documentation and plans, we strive to understand, at the deepest level, what the client wants to achieve, as well as how, when and why. This is sometimes the first time, ever, they’ve been asked to seriously, and carefully, articulate their values and their wishes. It can be a transformative experience. Only when we have a real understanding of how a client’s charitable undertakings reflect their values and their goals, do we set pen to paper.

As we see it, there are two kinds of philanthropy. External philanthropic objectives are about giving back – sharing our assets with the society that helped us acquire them. Internal philanthropic objectives satisfy the desire to instill in your family your personal philanthropic philosophies and personal values. Most philanthropic plans are a combination of both.

There are many strategies available to accomplish your philanthropic planning objectives. They should all be considered because each can have a beneficial impact, depending upon your situation. Our overriding philosophy is to adopt the strategies that are the simplest and least costly to create and administer, and will satisfy your objectives.

In some instances, the best strategy is to simply write a check or incorporate a charitable bequest in your estate planning documents. In others, more complex strategies may be required, based on your objectives and tax situation. Our attorneys have decades of experience in helping clients achieve their charitable objectives, and will guide you in selecting, and putting into place, the best strategy for you, your family, and your goals.

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Charitable Remainder and Charitable Lead Trusts 

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Family Foundations and Donor Advised Funds