August is National Make-a-Will Month, and the publicity surrounding this designation may have you asking your advisor if your affairs are in good order and whether it’s time to make, review or update your will.

Of course, making sure a client has established an estate plan and executed corresponding legal documents is a priority for any attorney, accountant, or financial advisor who practices in the field of estate planning, tax, or wealth management. Still, National Make-a-Will Month provides the opportunity for advisors to remind clients to keep their estate plans up to date, to review their plan on a regular basis, or even just to explain the importance of making a will.

Indeed, despite the many cautionary tales arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic, most Americans do not have a will. Even those who do have estate plans in place may not truly understand the difference between a will and a trust (and the reason they still need a will even if they have a revocable living trust). And many also may not understand that a charitable bequest can be part of an estate plan whether your main estate planning vehicle is a will or whether it is a trust.

Research reveals fascinating psychological factors behind a person’s decision to leave a bequest in the first place, which helps to understand the motivation for leaving a gift to a charitable organization in a will or trust. Not surprisingly, altruism has long been one of those factors. Bequests to charity are not a new idea. Examples of high-profile estate gifts date back centuries. You may be familiar with the bequests of Benjamin Franklin, who established testamentary charitable trusts dedicated to supporting Boston and Philadelphia tradesmen, and George Washington, who left bequests in his will to colleges and trade schools, despite not having attended college himself.

Waco Foundation welcomes the opportunity to work with you and your advisors to establish bequests to your fund or directly to your favorite nonprofits through your will or trust, or through a beneficiary designation on a qualified retirement plan or life insurance policy, including providing you with proper bequest language to ensure alignment with your intentions. National Make-a-Will Month is also a good time to talk to your advisor about the tax-efficiency of bequests from qualified retirement plans. Distributions flowing directly to your fund or a nonprofit’s fund at Waco Foundation from a retirement plan after your death will not be subject to income tax or estate tax.

We look forward to working with you and your advisors to establish your philanthropic legacy.

Of the $485 billion given to charity by Americans in 2021, according to Giving USA, 9.5% of that giving came from bequests–that’s $46 billion. Giving USA’s data visualization tool illustrates the ebbs and flows of bequest giving, which has long been a significant component of philanthropy.