When you enter your twilight years your estate plan is probably going to have more direct relevance to you than it had 10 or 20 years previously. Of course you’re going to want to make sure that all of your loved ones are properly provided for after you pass away, and this is the first concern for most people who are engaged in estate planning. However, it is not uncommon to take stock of the larger part of your legacy when you reach the latter stages of your life. Many people ask themselves how they can express the gratitude that they feel for the good things that have come to them throughout their lives, and of course charitable giving is one way to do this.
Family foundations such as the Ford Foundation or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are well-publicized, but creation of such a family foundation is impractical for the vast majority of people who are interested in making philanthropic giving part of their estate plans. However, a very viable option “for the rest of us” is the use of donor advised funds as a charitable giving vehicle.
With these funds you can make a single contribution and then subsequently advise the fund with regard to how you would like grants to be distributed. In this manner you can direct contributions to any number of separate charities through a single transaction. In addition to enabling diversified giving it also simplifies record keeping, and this efficiency is extremely appealing to many people.
It should be noted that there are tax advantages that go along with the creation of donor advised funds as well. When you make the initial donation into the fund those assets are removed from your estate for estate tax purposes, and you can also claim a charitable deduction. Plus, if you were to donate appreciated securities into the fund they would not be subject to capital gains tax, enabling you to channel resources to charity that would have otherwise gone into the coffers of the IRS.