I recently returned from Atlanta and the Carter Center. I am pleased to serve on the National Planned Giving Advisory Board of the Carter Center with many nationally-recognized leaders in the fields of Estate Planning and Philanthropy.
In our recent meetings, we explored many interesting aspects regarding estate planning, especially regarding charitable giving. For example, we examined how a client’s charitable giving is influenced by the attorney’s exploration of the client’s wishes. If the attorney did not ask about the client’s charitable interest, about 5% of the clients expressed a wish to leave something to charity. If the attorney merely asked if the client wished to leave anything to charity, that percentage doubled to 10%. If the attorney mentioned that some clients want to provide for charity and then asked whether the client wished to do so, the percentage increased to 15%.
There might be many different explanations for this interesting behavior. The two most likely explanations are that: 1. some clients might simply forget about including charity in their estate plans, and 2. some clients might want to do what is expected of them. The client may think they are expected to leave all assets to their family. Once they discover that others leave money to charitable causes, they may feel liberated to follow their true wishes to do so themselves.
A full exploration of the client’s wishes leads to an estate plan which more fully meets the client’s needs and their desire for leaving a legacy which lives after them.
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
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