Most of us are not capable of giving billions to charity, like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates  But charities, to be successful, don’t need billions (they’d love to have billions, I’m sure, but most operate on far less than that).

Most people make modest charitable gifts to their favorite charity, university or church during their lifetime.  But the amount of gifts each of us is able and willing to make during our lifetime is somewhat limited by our resources.  For example, you can’t give your house to charity while you’re alive because you need it to live in; giving it away would be absurd.

What if I told you that you could make a very large charitable gift (large being relative to your own individual resources) to your favorite charity, university or church and never feel the pain of losing your hard-earned assets?  It can be done as part of your California Trust or Will  planning by leaving a charitable gift upon your death.

Think of the power you have.  Making a gift to charity at death is often referred to as “planned giving” or charitable estate planning.  Charitable planning can take many forms, and can get pretty fancy if you want, but it can also be extraordinarily simple by just naming a charitable beneficiary in your Trust or Will.

Now I am not suggesting that you leave all you have to charity (unless you want to), and cut out your children or other heirs entirely.  But I am suggesting that by making a little room in your California Will or Trust for a charitable cause, you can give a gift far bigger than you are able to give during your lifetime and still have plenty left over for your children.

For example, let’s say you have a home, a rental house and some money in the bank.  During your lifetime, you live in your home–you don’t want to give that up.  And you rely on rental income from your rental, while the money in the bank acts as a safety net in case you need more care and assistance as you grow older.  So there is not much room in your finances for a large charitable gift while you are alive.

But upon your death, if you gave let’s say a quarter of your rental property to charity, that could be a significant gift.  Even if the rental home is only worth say $200,000, one-fourth of that would be $50,000!  Could you imagine giving $50,000 to charity during your lifetime?  No.  But as part of your estate plan, a generous gift can be made to the charity of your choosing and your children still receive the remainder of your assets.

Do you think $50,000 is too much?  Make it $10,000, that’s still a larger gift than you can make while alive.

There are many good causes out there that would be overjoyed to receive a gift of $10,000.  And they often remember your gift by any number of recognitions. Also, your children can participate in the charitable gifts, including having them make decisions on how the money is spent and the programs that are sponsored by your gift. 

The point is, giving “till it hurts” is much easier to take when you are not here to feel the “hurt.”  And making some room for charity in your Trust and Will is a great way to leave a legacy that will be long remembered by those in need, without hurting those you love.