A bequest is one of the easiest gifts to make. With the help of an advisor, you simply include language in your will or trust specifying a gift to be made to Boy Scouts of America as part of your estate plan. You can establish your legacy, and it remains revocable at any time during your life. For donors with taxable estates, charitable bequests are completely tax deductible when distributed. There are many types of bequests you can consider, including:
- General—A designated amount of money, such as “$10,000.”
- Specific—A certain item, such as “my 100 shares of IBM stock,” “my home at 123 Main Street,” “my original Norman Rockwell painting,” etc.
- Percentage—A designated percentage of your estate, such as “10 percent.” This helps protect against inflation, reducing the value of your bequest.
- Residuary—Gives Scouting all or a percentage of anything left after all general and specific bequests are satisfied.
- Contingent Bequest—Only takes effect if another bequest fails, such as “If my father should predecease me, then this should go to the XYZ Council, BSA.”
Many donors establish “testamentary” charitable trusts in their wills. These are just like the “regular” annuity trusts or unitrusts—the only difference is they are funded or created in your will. Also, for donors who use living trusts, Scouting and other charities can easily be included in those.
Recent tax law changes kept the existing marital deduction, allowing an unlimited transfer amount between spouses. But it greatly increased the lifetime estate and gift exclusion, allowing the transfer of up to almost $11,700,000, at any time during life or at death, to anyone, tax free, regardless of marital status. For example, a married couple may transfer unlimited amounts between them, and another $23.4 million at any time to anyone else they want (e.g. children, grandchildren, etc). For over 99% of taxpayers, this eliminates estate tax concerns, greatly increases the amounts available to pass to family and charities, and reduces the need to create trusts just to avoid transfer taxes. The recent tax law changes also increased the annual exclusion to $15,000 per year/per person- additional amounts that can be transferred to anyone without transfer tax and without impacting your lifetime exclusion.