HomeEstate PlanningDon't Accidently Forgo Your Charitable Intent at Death

Don’t Accidently Forgo Your Charitable Intent at Death

Even those with strong charitable intents (religious or otherwise), actually fail to provide for the charities of their choice at death.  In essence their charitable intent is often ignored, and it is usually by mistake!

I was reading a Last Will and Testament of a high net worth client the other day, and came across a very interesting section.  It should first noted that a residuary clause is a catch-all. It basically says if there is any money left over after specific bequests, I want it go to A, B, and C.  In the client’s residuary clause he left assets to family members; however, if the following happens his contingent residuary clause were to take affect, and in said contingent residuary clause he left a generous sum of money to a pre-school for children with special.  However, this contingent residuary clause only came into effect if

  • His spouse predeceased;
  • His children predeceased;
  • Those predeceased children left no children;
  • His Parents predeceased;
  • His Siblings predeceased; and
  • If his nieces and nephew predeceased and they didn’t live any children either

Basically, everyone in his life needed to predecease before his charitable intent, was satisfied.  When I sat down with him and his financial planners to discuss his document I asked, “What is your relationship with XYZ Charity?” His response, was that he is on the Board of Directors, and for the past 20 years XYZ charity has been a huge part of his life. Naturally, I then took out my notes and told him that literally EVERY family member in his life, today, has to die prior to this huge part of his life to see one cent.

He is re-doing his Will.

When Creating a Will Map out Your Charitable Testamentary Intent

Before meeting with an attorney think about the issue, How much do you want to give to the charity of your choice?  Do you want to give it to your church or temple only if everyone has predeceased? Do you want to make sure they get something no matter who survives you?

These are questions only you can answer.

Have you made charitable bequests? Do you know what they actually Say?



  1. Evan – Nice… a will map, or org chart is a good idea. I'll talk to the wife about this. So many law speed bumps, this is good to know.

    I respond to your other comment btw. I'm unclear on the $1mil gift rule, if you can help us out. thnx.

  2. I think I answered it the issue. Its a complicated issue for a comment section. If you have an interest I'd be happy to review your will if you
    want to redact names on it – see if it is what you think it is? May be an
    interesting exercise for both our blogs.

    On Tue, 10 Nov 2009 17:34:53 -0000, “Disqus”

  3. Hi Evan – Thnx for the explanation. Makes sense. I figure, I'm not going to have more than $3.5 million to gift anyway…. b/c if I end up with $5 mil, I'm going to spend $1.5 mil to get me below that tax rate!

    How do you know so much about wills btw?


  4. FS,

    First of all you don't need to gift to get below the amount…you can do some advanced Will planning to get it up to around 7 million between you and your spouse (go check out some of my other posts under estate planning).

    Second I am hurt that you never read my about page! I am a Trust and Estate Attorney for a Financial Planning firm. Actually to answer your comment I just stopped reading an irrevocable trust set up for medicaid purposes (BORING)

  5. Haha, I did read your About page actually, and it wasn't clear to me you are a Trust and Estate Attorney. The closest thing I got is that you are licensed to practice in NYC, but that doesn't mean you do. I thought 65% of law school grads go on to do other things? Is there another about page that I'm missing? 🙂

    “I am a 27 year old happily married guy, who lives with his wife and dog on Long Island. As long as I can remember I have had an interest in economics, taxes, politics and personal finance.

    I graduated from college with a B.S. in economics and went directly to law school where I earned my J.D. I passed the New York Bar Exam, and am currently admitted to practice in the State of New York. I am also licensed to sell accidental, life, and health insurance in NY State.

    I started this blog to share my experiences, catalog my research, and track my journey from being a broke law school graduate to a multimillionaire (hopefully lol).”


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