Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Charitable Bequest

The most widely used method for planned giving is a bequest in a Last Will and Testament. A charitable bequest may be in the form of cash, real estate, securities, or other property. There are several ways to provide for Southwestern by bequest:

  • A General Bequest of a specified dollar amount or percentage of the donor's estate.
  • A Specific Bequest of a particular asset, such as a savings account, stock, or real property.
  • A Contingent Bequest, if your primary beneficiaries fail to survive the donor. A contingent bequest means that Southwestern would receive assets from your estate only if the other named individual or individuals do not survive the donor.
  • A Residual Bequest of the balance of the estate after expenses, taxes, and general and specific bequests have been paid. In this case, Southwestern receives whatever is left of the estate after the other named beneficiaries receive their share.
  • A Testamentary Trust created by will provides lifetime support and payments to one or more beneficiaries, the balance of the trust later passing to Southwestern.

An unrestricted bequest may be made, or the donor may designate the specific purpose for which it is to be used. For example, the bequest may establish an endowed fund in the donor's name or in the memory of a person or persons they wish to honor.

Outright bequests, whatever the amount, are free from federal estate tax, California estate tax, and the inheritance taxes of many other states. The resulting tax savings are substantial; in a large estate they may be more than half the value of the gift to Southwestern.

Charitable bequests may be provided by making a new will or by adding a codicil to the existing will. To ensure that the donor's exact intentions are carried out, wills or codicils should be prepared by or with the advice of a personal attorney.