Funding My Legacy Gift

There are many ways to fund a legacy gift, each with its own financial, and estate planning advantages.

A gift in your will or trust

WomanYou can make a legacy gift by deciding to leave a gift of a percentage of your estate, the remainder after gifts to heirs, or a specific amount in your will or living trust. There's no limit on the amount you may set aside from your estate—you may make a gift as large or as small as you'd like.

If you have already drafted your will or trust, your attorney may be able to help you arrange a charitable bequest with a simple amendment, or codicil.

Here is some sample language to provide to your attorney:

To [ organization name ] of [ city ], California, tax payer identification number _______________________, I give [ % of the remainder of my estate / the sum of $_____ ].

If you do not yet have a will or trust, contact us for the names of some local estate planners.

A retirement account

Designating a charity as a beneficiary of your retirement plan is among the easiest ways to plan a legacy gift, and for many people with pre-tax accounts it may be the most tax-wise. Taxes on distributions to heirs can be up to 70%.

Naming one or more charities as the after-death beneficiaries of your retirement account can save taxes while supporting the causes closest to your heart. Though we recommend that you consult with your financial or estate planning professional when making legacy giving decisions, a gift from your retirement account does not require an attorney. You simply need to submit a change of beneficiary form, available from your retirement plan administrator.

A life insurance policy

You can also name a charity as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. Or you can fund a large gift at modest current costs by purchasing a life insurance policy, specifying your organization as a beneficiary. Insurance premiums and cash surrender values can be made tax-deductible, and the resulting gift can offset future estate tax obligations.

Outright gifts

When you establish a permanent endowment fund with a current gift of cash or other property, your fund may be used to pay an annual gift to the charity of your choice. If you donate appreciated securities held for more than one year, you can avoid capital gains taxes and receive a tax receipt for the full value of your gift in the current year.

A charitable remainder trust

Woman outsideCharitable remainder trusts produce income for you or for loved ones, and the remainder after your lifetime is given as your legacy gift. You can take a pro-rated tax deduction now, remove assets from your estate, and potentially reduce estate taxes accordingly. A charitable remainder annuity trust provides fixed payouts, and a charitable remainder unitrust provides payouts which can grow as the funds invested in the trust grow. Upon the end of the term, the remainder of the trust will be contributed to complete your legacy gift to the Jewish community.


These descriptions are provided for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal or tax advice. Please consult a financial or estate planning professional to understand the implications of a gift for your particular circumstances and goals.


For more information, or for a referral to a financial or estate planning professional, please contact Steve Brown, Director of Legacy Development, at (510) 433-0134, ext. 215 or steveatjfeddotorg.