Leaving a Legacy: Making an impact through charitable giving
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Leaving a Legacy: Making an impact through charitable giving 

By Sarah McIntosh

Estate planning is all about leaving a legacy, your mark on this world. When you envision it, what does this legacy look like to you? Philanthropy is likely a part of that vision.

Whether it’s a grand or humble estate, an impact can be made by giving a gift to an organization you care about.

What is a Charitable Bequest?

A charitable bequest is a gift or donation of one’s tangible assets to family members, friends, or organizations after their death. As with all gifts, you can make one to an organization through your estate plan.

This gift, which can include monetary assets, real estate properties, or other valuable items like artwork or classic car collections, symbolizes the donor’s commitment to the organization’s cause.

With a bequest, the nonprofit can only receive this gift after the donor has passed. In their will, the donor must leave explicit instructions on how the bequest will be handed over to the nonprofit.

In many cases, the assets bequeathed may be sold, and the proceeds from the sale given to the stated organization.

Why gift to a non-profit?

There are many benefits including:

  • Tax Benefits - Giving gifts is a legitimate strategy for reducing your overall taxable estate.
  • Flexibility - The nice thing about charitable bequests is that they can be modified. You can even revoke it if your circumstances drastically change.  
  • Create a Legacy - Leave a positive impact on the world. Create something wonderful for you to be remembered by and know that your gift will be used toward a good cause.  

Who receives these bequests:

  • Educational institutions, such as schools and universities 
  • Museums
  • Hospitals
  • Cultural centers
  • Historical societies
  • Religious organizations

Types of Bequests

When planning to leave a legacy there are many options to choose from.

  • General Bequests - monetary assets assigned to a nonprofit in a donor’s will. The value of a general bequest may fluctuate over time, depending on the value of the donor’s estate at the time of death.  
  • Specific Bequests - the allocation of a particular asset, such as a piece of art, to a named beneficiary in a will. When nonprofit organizations are designated to receive specific bequests, the bequeathed item needs to be precisely stated.
  • Residuary Bequests - involves allocating what is left after all expenses, debts, and taxes incurred by the donor’s estate have been settled. This residuary bequest is most commonly received by nonprofit organizations. In this case, after the deceased donor’s property and possessions have been shared with their loved ones and family members, the nonprofit receives whatever is left behind.  
  • Contingent Bequests - given only when specific conditions have been met. 
  • Percentage Bequests - the allocation of the donor’s estate among the beneficiaries in proportion or percentages rather than a specific monetary value. It is mainly used to ensure the estate is properly distributed amongst beneficiaries. 

Gifts or bequests can come in many forms, the most common of which are cash, tangible personal property, or real estate.

Of these three the most desirable is cash. With gifts of tangible property (e.g., vehicles, jewelry, antiques, coin collections) some may be easily converted to cash, while other tangible property may be more of a burden than a benefit. Some items may even have little to no value at all (like a very old used car).

Prior to bequeathing tangible property, you should think about its marketability, any restrictions on its use, and any costs associated with possession, ownership, and sale for the non-profit.

Real Estate can also prove to be of great value, or of great burden. You should consider the real estate’s usefulness, value, marketability, limitations (e.g., restrictions, reservations, or easements), and carrying costs (e.g., insurance, property taxes, mortgages, or notes). When gifting you want to make it easy for the recipient to convert the assets into cash.

KIKO works with non-profits to fulfill the wishes of those that choose to leave a legacy. Using the auction method of marketing creates an opportunity to maximize the value of the gift which in turn allows organizations to use the money to make our schools, communities and the world a better place to live.


Sarah McIntosh is director of business development at KIKO Realtors, Auctioneers & Advisors. She works with banks, estate planners, and government entities to demonstrate how KIKO can assist in asset liquidation and workout events. Reach her at 330-705-2803.

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