Summer is the perfect time for daydreaming, and taking a beat away from work and the daily demands of life. It is also a great time to take stock in our accomplishments, to contemplate the positive impacts we have made, and to envision the permanent legacies we can still sculpt for posterity. A growing number of Americans, inspired by Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and other philanthropists, are thinking of their legacies as much more than what they will leave to their families. They are thinking of what they will leave to make the world a better place forever. Exploring the Options Whether you wish to advance existing charitable causes or you prefer to start your own foundation, the options for charitable giving are numerous, allowing you to focus on causes that are significant to you. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are 1.5 million non-profit organizations in the U.S. and that number is growing. Just some of the common ways that people have chosen to make a lasting difference involve gifts for: • Biomedical research related to cures for cancer, heart disease or other afflictions. • Scientific advancement. • Enrichment of education, health care and sustenance for victims of poverty. • Preservation of cultural assets by public or private museums. • Building funds for hospitals, universities or cultural centers. • Foundations dedicated to preserving parks, wildlife reserves and open spaces. • Shelters that care for victims of homelessness or abuse. • Military veterans’ organizations. • Religious organizations. • Educational, artistic or athletic scholarship funds. Tools for Sculpting Your Legacy The right team of lawyers and experienced financial advisers can help you identify the best legal tools for creating and perpetuating your legacy. Among the many options you might consider are: • Creating a non-profit, charitable foundation. • Establishing a fund with a specific mission within an existing foundation. • Establishing a “donor-advised fund” through a college or university for educational purposes or through a mutual fund company for purposes that you specify. • Creating a trust for charitable purposes, such as a charitable remainder trust, taking advantage of current tax benefits while funding or preserving a legacy to benefit future generations. "IF YOU WILL® : Short Takes on Estates, Taxes and Trusts” is a quarterly glance through an informal lens at selected news items, court decisions, legislative changes and/or important issues pertinent to estate planning. It is primarily intended to inform and entertain you. But if it causes you to pick up the phone and call us with a legal question, we won’t complain; and if it inspires you to examine our more in-depth legal updates, you can view them in the “Publications” section of our website at burnslev.com/publications.This communication provides general information and does not constitute legal advice. Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. © 2014 Burns & Levinson LLP. All rights reserved. Office Locations: Boston (HQ), Andover, Hingham, New York, Providence, Waltham MA: 617.345.3000 l NY: 212.231.2237 l RI: 401.831.8330 burnslev.com If you decide to set up your own foundation, you can exert significant direction over the mission, administration, fundraising and gifting involved. If you have less time to devote to a charitable project, an existing foundation or a donor-advised fund may best suit your goals. For instance, a donor-advised fund may permit you to direct how gifts will be made now or in the future, and the fund administrator will take care of any tax reports or administrative paperwork. For many other people, a charitable remainder trust is the best option, allowing for a continuing stream of income for you while providing for ultimate distribution to a charity of your choosing. With the right planning, you can also provide that your surviving spouse or significant other will be provided for by that income stream during his or her lifetime. A charitable remainder trust can be structured to provide immediate income tax benefits as well as estate tax benefits. Who Needs Estate Planning and When? For many people, the value of an estate plan will far exceed its cost due to tax savings. Furthermore, estate planning is not just for individuals who have a net worth in excess of state or federal exemptions (currently set at $1 million for Massachusetts, and $5.34 million for the U.S., but subject to change). The following people can greatly benefit from estate planning with experienced legal counsel: • Individuals or couples who have dependents or beneficiaries with special needs. • Adoptive parents, who need to make special provisions for inheritance that differ from state law provisions applicable to those without a legally enforceable plan. • Other non-traditional families, such as those of unmarried couples or domestic partners. • Married persons who have previous spouses or children from a prior marriage. • Those who have special charitable goals. • Those who have ownership shares in a closely held business that could suffer grave disruption from an inheritance battle or significant death taxes on their estates (such people can benefit from a well-structured agreement providing for life insurance on key owners in amounts adequate to fund the purchase of the decedent’s shares, according to valuations set by agreement).