Philanthropy can be a meaningful part of your legacy, and many people feel strongly about giving something back. Exactly how you should structure your efforts is something you should discuss in detail with a licensed and experienced estate planning attorney.
Clearly there are personal rewards that come back to you on a tangible level when you make the decision to give something back. But at the same time you may be able to maximize your giving by taking advantage of certain tax benefits that may go along with acts of philanthropy.
The possibility of creating your own private family foundation exists. You may automatically think that because you are not a Rockefeller or a member of the Gates family such a foundation is out of your reach.
But, in truth, there are many foundations out there that are smaller in scope, unstaffed, and working with funds that do not reach the seven figures. One of the resources available to people interested in starting foundations is the Association of Small Foundations.
An alternative to a foundation is to make contributions into a donor advised fund. These funds already have all the infrastructure in place, and because many different people utilize them the administrative costs are manageable.
The best way to learn about vehicles of charitable giving is to discuss everything with an estate planning attorney who has a background assisting clients who are passionate about fostering a legacy of giving.
Author, President and Founding Attorney
Parman & Easterday