Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme

The Easiest Gifts to Make

Posted in Uncategorized by BGCOP Staff on April 17, 2013

The Easiest Gifts to Make
By Juan C. Ros, CFP®
Lamia_Juan Ros
The recent financial crisis and the lingering economic malaise have made Americans jittery about their savings. A common concern is whether or not they will outlive their savings and investments.

Given this concern held by most individuals who are in retirement or approaching retirement, it is easy to see how charitable giving is not always a priority. And yet, charitable giving can not only give families a sense of legacy – that they are leaving something meaningful behind – but can also be accomplished today without giving up any assets that may be needed during lifetime. Making a commitment today to a charitable gift that will be made in the future can be uplifting and transformative.

You don’t have to be Warren Buffett or Bill Gates to make a commitment to charity through your estate. Anyone can do it!

The most common type of deferred gift made through one’s estate is a bequest in a will or living trust. Simply think of your favorite causes – your church, alma mater, local hospital, food bank – and include them in your will or trust as you would a family member. In my experience, donors feel comfortable allocating 10% of their assets to charity, and the remaining 90% to family, so as not to “disinherit” heirs. Or you can make specific bequests to family first, and then leave the rest to charity.

A will can be amended using a simple codicil; a trust will require a trust amendment. In either case, consult a qualified estate planning attorney to help.

But there’s an even easier gift you can make that doesn’t even require an attorney: You can name one or more charities as beneficiary of your retirement plan. If you have an IRA (traditional or Roth), you can designate charitable organizations as beneficiary along with your spouse, children, or whomever you have already named.

Again, this can be done in percentages – for example, 2% of an IRA to each of five charities, and the remaining 90% to family.

To make these changes, simply request a “change of beneficiary” form from your IRA custodian.

Some important points to remember: To avoid confusion, be sure you have the charity’s correct legal name on any documents. Some charities are very similar-sounding while others have multiple chapters, so you want to make sure you are designating the correct one. Simply call the charity and ask for their correct legal name and their tax ID number, which you will need for a retirement plan designation. If you wish to remain anonymous, ask your financial planner to call on your behalf.

Many charities have established special programs to honor and recognize supporters who have included the charity in an estate gift. By notifying the charity of your commitment, you give the organization the opportunity to thank you in advance.

Anyone, no matter the level of wealth, can be a philanthropist and make a lasting impact on the causes they hold dear. A bequest or retirement plan designation is a simple technique for making that happen.

Juan C. Ros, CFP®, is a financial advisor specializing in charitable strategies at Lamia Financial Group, LLC in Thousand Oaks and is board member with the Financial Planning Association of Ventura County. He can be reached at (805) 494-3416 or


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