Leaving a Rewarding Legacy 

What do Chadwick Boseman, Aretha Franklin, Prince, Pablo Picasso, Howard Hughes, John Denver, Bob Marley, and Jimi Hendrix have in common?

They were all famously wealthy individuals who died without a will. A new survey, however, shows that you don’t have to be a celebrity to ignore the subject of wills and estate planning.

Only 33 percent of Americans have a will or living trust, even though nearly 60 percent believe it is very or somewhat important to have these documents in place. The main obstacle, according to the results of the Caring.com 2022 Wills and Estate Planning Study? Procrastination. Forty percent say they have not gotten around to it.

As we mark National Make-A-Will Month in August, National Estate Planning Awareness Week in October (adopted by Congress in 2008), and prepare for the year-end season of charitable giving, now is a good time to explore estate planning, why it is vital to financial wellness, and how it can help make a difference for the causes and communities you love well after you’ve passed away.

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as concerns about inflation have influenced people’s personal financial outlook. Among the other key findings, the study found that one in three Americans who have no will or living trust believe they don’t have enough assets to leave behind; they think that having a will or an estate plan is only for the rich. However, regardless of the size of a person’s financial nest egg, they can benefit from smart financial legacy planning.  

While many would prefer to avoid contemplating their own mortality, the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils explains that the purpose of estate planning is to develop a strategy that will maintain financial security through a person’s lifetime and ensure the intended transfer of their property and assets at death, while taking into consideration the unique circumstances of their family and the potential costs of different methods. With proper planning, someone can have the satisfaction of supporting causes that are important to them, while also securing income and estate tax savings and providing benefits to their family.

“For nonprofits, legacy gifts through wills and estate planning are essential to our ability to continue to advance our mission. Many years ago, we created our Heritage Society, a group of our legacy donors who have been recognized for their planned gifts to the Guide Dog Foundation,” said Amy Dash, philanthropy officer for major gifts and planned giving at the Guide Dog Foundation. “These important gifts empower us to continue to provide independence to blind people, individuals who have low vision, or those with other special needs, helping them live without boundaries.”

For more information about planned giving and our Heritage Society, please visit https://guidedog.plannedgiving.org/ or contact: Amy Dash, philanthropy officer, planned giving & major gifts, at Amy.Dash@GuideDog.org or 631-930-9007.