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What is the best way to make a charitable gift using my will?

There are several methods for doing so but the easiest, most direct way is through an outright bequest of cash.This method is especially appropriate when the amount of the gift will be relatively small, or when your gift will be issued with “no strings attached.” And it’s easy to do. To make a cash bequest, simply include a short paragraph in your will, naming the charitable
beneficiary and stating the amount of your gift.

Other methods for creating charitable gifts include:

• Bequeathing personal property to the charity. Ideal types include highly appreciated or rapidly appreciating property; income-generating property such as personallyproduced
items (e.g., artwork donated by the artist), inventory, and stocks acquired in a non-taxable corporate transaction (a.k.a. Section 306 stocks); and tangible holdings such as cars, jewelry and art.

• Making the charity the beneficiary of your IRA or retirement plan. This method can provide a double benefit, saving taxes for both you and the charity – taxes that would otherwise consume a substantial portion of your retirement account.

• Creating a charitable trust. The most common are charitable lead trusts, in which the charity gets the first (or lead) interest, and charitable remainder trusts, in which the charity receives the account principal.

• Giving life insurance to the charity. There are several methods for doing so, some more complex than others. Regardless, the main benefit of giving insurance is that, for a relatively low cost, you can make a much larger gift than you might otherwise be able to afford. You may also benefit from tax rules that apply to life insurance-based gifts.

Your estate planner can provide help in deciding which type of giving makes the most sense in your particular situation. No matter what method you choose, know that your
good deed will likely be amply rewarded through estate tax savings, as well as by the sense of personal satisfaction you’ll gain in supporting a worthy cause.

If you have any questions about the content of this article or about your estate planning needs, please feel free to contact me at (847)756-5543 or


Ellaine Sambo-Reyther

Director of Trust & Estate Advisory Services
Harris Private Bank
Board of Directors for Wellness Place
(847) 756-5543


Harris Private Bank is a trade name used by various financial service providers in the BMO Harris Bank N.A Banking products and services offered by Harris Private Bank are provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. and their bank affiliates. Member FDIC. United States Department of Treasury Regulation Circular 230 requires that we notify you that this information cannot be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. This information is being used to support the promotion or marketing of the planning strategies discussed herein. BMO Harris Bank N.A. and its affiliates do not provide legal advice to clients. You should review your particular circumstances with your independent legal and tax advisors.

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