As estate planning attorneys, we have the privilege of assisting our clients in many ways. We help them plan for the welfare of their own family, through the use of trusts and Wills. We help them provide for their disabled children, through Special Needs Trusts. And, we help those with the desire to help the wider world through charitable giving strategies, such as Charitable Remainder Trusts.
Last week, I travelled to Atlanta for the semi-annual meetings of the national Planned Giving Advisory Council of the Carter Center, on which I am fortunate to serve. The Planned Giving Advisory Council advances the cause of philanthropy in general, as well as the works of the Carter Center itself.
The Carter Center is a non-partisan charity which has the motto “Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope.” Through its programs in dozens of countries throughout the world, it brings hope. For example, Guinea Worm affected 3.5 million people when the Carter Center began its eradication efforts. This year, there are little more than 100 cases world-wide. It is expected that in two or three years Guinea Worm will become only the second disease in human history to have been eradicated. The Carter Center is extraordinary and is one of the 10 Best Charity’s Everyone’s Heard Of, according to Charity Navigator.
There are many wonderful charities helping in all sorts of ways. Unfortunately, not all charities get high marks. Charity Navigator is a great place to go to check out a charity of interest. Through that website, you and your clients can discover what portion of a charity’s budget is devoted to the programs it is there to deliver. A more understandable way to explain this figure is “how much of each dollar goes to the programs?” With the Carter Center it is 93.4%. There are several “charities” which spend less than 10% on their programs!
Once your client has decided on a particular charity, as an estate planning attorney, you can help them to minimize the tax cost of their giving by considering giving appreciated securities, giving to a CRT, and all of the other strategies at our disposal. When helping your client with their charitable giving, you are joining them in making an impact on the wider world.
Stephen C. Hartnett, J.D., LL.M.
Associate Director of Education
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555