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You Can Change Your Mind

One of the reasons that individuals prefer to make estate gifts to charities through their wills is the opportunity they have to make changes as time goes on. Because a will is a revocable legal document, they can either have their attorney draft a new will, or add a codicil to an existing will. Some people make several changes over the years as their situations change.

Why would someone want to alter a bequest that has already been arranged for a charity? For one thing, as people age, their estates become more settled. Their children are older and building their own estates. Because family needs seem to be decreasing, donors may decide to revise their wills to increase the size of a charitable bequest.

On the other hand, special needs may arise among a donor’s family that will require ongoing financial help. Parents may feel it is necessary to lower what had been previously earmarked for charity.

Another change might be precipitated by disappointment in the charity itself. Sometimes we hear of donors who have been dissatisfied with one charity to the point that they make or increase a bequest to another charity that better represents their values.

Another reason for making a change to one’s bequest is to “move forward” all or part of the bequest while the donor lives. For example, a donor might redirect a bequest to a life-income gift such as a charitable gift annuity that provides regular payments for life. Or one might want to make a major outright gift to create an endowment fund or help with capital expansion.

Whether or not you intend to make changes in your will or estate plans, it is wise to periodically review what you currently have in place. As changes occur in family responsibilities, work commitments, investment portfolios, and estate taxes, it is good to examine your documents to make sure they adequately address your wishes and goals for the distribution of your estate.

As you do so, consider making charitable provisions for the Jewish community. Feel free to contact me to help you think this through or discuss this important subject. I can be reached at 614-338-2365 or jjacobs@tcjf.org.

Article appears as originally published in the Ohio Jewish Chronicle, December 17, 2015.

Jackie Jacobs is the Chief Executive Officer of the Columbus Jewish Foundation, the Central Ohio Jewish community’s planned giving and endowment headquarters.

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