Benefit Your Family and Scouting With a Will
A will makes a statement about what matters most in your life. By making a will, you ensure that your intentions are clearly expressed, and that they will be followed by those administering your estate. You should decide who will get your estate — after all, you’re the one that worked so hard to get it. Unfortunately, about 70% of all Americans do not make a will, and let their state decide how to distribute their assets.
After providing for family, friends, and others, many supporters of Scouting also include a meaningful gift to their local council to continue their lifetime support. Gifts in a will can be a) specific bequests of property, b) a stated dollar amount, c) a percentage of the estate, or d) a gift of the residual (what’s left after all other provisions of your will have been satisfied), or e) a contingent gift (taking effect only if other will provisions cannot be satisfied). Of course, most of the charitable trusts that can be created during your lifetime can also be created in your will for the benefit of family, friends and charities.
Charitable bequests are a great way to provide for Scouting without giving up the assets during your lifetime. When the gift is distributed from your estate, your estate will receive an estate tax charitable deduction for the amount of your gift. Your gift may be a general purpose gift for Scouting or, of course, you can specify how the Council should use your gift.
It is very important that your bequest be correctly stated in your will. The BSA will be happy to provide you and your legal adviser with suggested terminology to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled. You should also consider sharing your plans with your local council, especially if your gift is to be used for a specific purpose by the council. This information will be confidential (unless you specify otherwise) and you will have the assurance that the use of your gift will be understood and agreed to by your local council.
Also, if you share your plans with your local council, they will have the opportunity to thank you now for your thoughtfulness and generosity to Scouting. You may be eligible either for recognition by the local council or for national recognition from the BSA through its Founders Circle.
Guarantee your pledge through your estate
Some people want to commit a major gift, but cannot complete the gift all at once. A multi-year pledge for Scouting is an effective way to do this. In fact, many donors also include language in their will that would fulfill any pledge amounts unpaid during the donor’s life.
The pledge is a simple, written agreement between you and your local council that commits you to an amount to be paid by a date that you choose and may even specify how your gift is to be used . It is not a substitute for a will. In fact, whether the pledge is binding upon you or your heirs is an issue of state law. Please check with your advisors as to the legal effect of a pledge in your state. It is a supplement to your will and the estate note should be referenced in your will for clarity of your intentions.
Pledges are commonly used to make a multi-year gift commitment for council endowment, a new service center or camp building, or in support of a specific Scouting program. It is best to record your estate note gift in your will or estate plan, and to alert your executor or personal representative. We encourage you to keep your pledge with your other estate plan documents and to attach a copy to your will.
A satisfying commitment today, preserving control and security for tomorrow
A popular and versatile estate planning tool is the living trust. This is sometimes called an inter vivos trust because it is created and becomes active during your lifetime. Many people use this trust to organize personal finances, provide for family members, and make gifts to Scouting.
The trust agreement is written to meet your needs and specifications. It keeps you in control of your assets during your lifetime and specifies how your property should be distributed after your death. A living trust can be revocable or irrevocable. Even if you have a living trust, it is still advisable to have a will. The will transfers into the trust any assets or property that have been deliberately or inadvertently omitted from the list of assets placed into the trust. A living trust can avoid probate delays, provide privacy as to how your assets are distributed (since probate documents are of public record) and they can reduce the expenses of estate administration.
These advantages should be weighed against the cost of administering the trust during your lifetime. A trust can enhance your estate planning and reduce estate taxes; however, a living trust is not suitable for everyone, and for some people it may be more expensive and burdensome than a will. To determine whether a living trust is suitable for your needs, you should consult your attorney.
As with a will, the living trust is an excellent way to make a gift to Scouting. Your gift can be any size and of virtually any asset, and you can specify the preferred use of your gift, if you choose. A provision for your local council or other charities you support can easily be added to your trust agreement, and it may be a specific, contingent, residual, or remainder gift. To ensure that your wishes will be fulfilled, please contact your Regional Endowment Counsel or the Finance Support Division at the BSA National Council for specific suggestions regarding the wording of your gift.
A simple and sound gift option
The need to plan today for the future is never more apparent than with retirement. For many people, retirement is a reward for a lifetime of work. But to make sure it is a reward rather than a burden, it is important to plan early — the security and comfort you deserve hinges on proper preparation.
In addition to the Social Security and Medicare systems, many individuals supplement their retirement income with investments in IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts), pension and profit-sharing plans, and other savings vehicles. In fact, many people discover that the bulk of their retirement assets are invested in these plans.
Many of these people also do not realize that, after providing for themselves and those who depend on them, these retirement investments offer many convenient and cost-effective charitable gift opportunities. With the growth in retirement and pension plans, many people now choose to designate their favorite charities as beneficiaries of any excess, or remaining, retirement funds once these funds are no longer needed. This is increasingly common, since these assets are often the most heavily taxed of all your assets if they are left instead to family members.
It is very easy to make these gifts to Scouting. If you have an IRA, Keogh plan, or a qualified pension or profit-sharing plan, contact your plan administrator and designate Scouting as the beneficiary of any remaining funds you do not use. During your life, you retain complete access to the funds. There is an estate tax deduction for any assets that go to Scouting, and you have the satisfaction of knowing you have made a meaningful and thoughtful gift.
Please contact your local council if you are contemplating this potential gift. We will assist you in determining how to use your gift, and in answering any questions you may have. Your plans will remain confidential if you desire.
Maintain wealth while giving income
The charitable lead trust is a gift of income to your Local Council. You select the assets to place in trust, and the length of time that your trust will last. Income from the trust is paid to Scouting for the length of time and purposes that you specify. When the trust terminates, the assets (the trust principal) are returned to you or distributed to whomever you choose, and are received tax-free.
This trust is a specialized estate planning tool. It is especially valuable if you have substantial estate and gift tax liabilities because it allows you to achieve several goals through one gift. You can make a significant gift that can be used now for Scouting, and transfer assets to subsequent generations with reduced or eliminated estate, inheritance, and gift taxes.
It is possible that the trust income will be excluded from your annual taxable income for the duration of the trust. Though this is not always possible with a charitable lead trust, we would be happy to discuss how to structure a lead trust for maximum benefit to you and your family.
The lead trust is generally a lifetime gift; however, you can establish a testamentary lead trust that would provide benefits to your estate similar to those you would enjoy during your lifetime.
A substantial gift for a modest investment
Many benefactors who provide consistent, generous gifts to Scouting would like to create an endowment fund to support a council position, a camp property, campership or scholarship program for youth, or other projects for their Local Council. They may want to see their endowment at work during their lifetime but, for various reasons, they may not be able to fund this endowment all at once.
Scouting’s Endow Now Program gives you an option: a larger endowment than you might have thought possible, at a much lower cost. Your gifts to this program are invested until your fund reaches the endowment dollar goal you request.
At that time, your endowment will begin to generate income for the council or programs you select. The program is designed so that the endowment you create may even start to benefit Scouting during your lifetime.
For example, you could create a lifetime endowment with a five-year pledge of $2,400 per year. The gift would be invested until it grows into the $50,000 principal that you selected. Based on past investment performance and actuarial tables, the endowment would likely reach your goal during your lifetime. Either the income or principal could then be distributed to the council and you would see the endowment that bears your name go to work for Scouting. For more information, please contact the Finance Support Division.
Convenience and flexibility in giving
Life insurance is another convenient way to make a future gift to Scouting with a minimum investment. Some donors make a gift of new, paid-up policies or existing ones that are no longer needed. A gift of existing life insurance that you own may be completed by assigning ownership and delivering the policy to Scouting. You would receive an immediate income tax charitable deduction for the current value of such a policy. Scouting must be the owner of any policy if you wish to receive an income tax charitable deduction. If you give a policy that is not fully paid-up, you receive a charitable deduction for your annual premium payments.
Although there are no lifetime tax benefits in doing so, you also may designate Scouting as beneficiary of insurance you own or receive from your employer. Most designations can be completed simply and conveniently with the help of your agent or employee benefits coordinator. If you have excess group term insurance, you may want to name your council as a beneficiary of the unneeded amounts. You can also designate the BSA as a contingent beneficiary of an existing policy.
You may designate the purpose of your gift, and when Scouting receives the policy proceeds, they will be used as you specified. Please share your plans with your Local Council. We can assist you in determining how you wish the Scouting to use the proceeds. Your insurance gift can be held in confidence, if you desire.