August is What Will Be Your Legacy Month. A legacy is a gift, especially of money or other personal property. As we go through life we tend to pass down items from generation to generation, leaving heirlooms from past generations and creating new heirlooms with our own possessions. Many people also leave charitable legacies through donations of personal items, money, or even their bodies. Often times people want to leave something specific to that loved one or charity and are unsure what vehicle to use to ensure that their wishes are fulfilled. Severns & Howard can assist you in finding the right vehicle to fulfill your final wishes and to ensure your possessions, donations, and monetary legacies are passed to your loved ones or charities.
The most common way to leave your legacy is through a distribution document such as a Last Will and Testament or a Trust. Each document allows you to leave items to a family member or charity by listing a specific bequest naming that loved one or charity in your document. Unsure of who should receive your favorite vase or the good china? You can also create and reference a Memorandum that allows you to designate specific items of household goods and personal property at a later date, as well as update it frequently without having to update your distribution document. This form of distribution, however, does not allow you to leave monetary gifts to specific family members or charities.
For monetary legacies, you can designate family, friends, or charities through change of beneficiary forms or creating transfer on death (TOD) and payable on death (POD) accounts. Your financial advisor and local bank can assist you in obtaining the proper forms and creating such accounts. Charities will often have forms that allow you to designate a donation to be made in your name at the time of your death. You will want to keep any such documents with your estate planning documents if you do not specifically note it in your distribution document. Charity websites also allow you to leave living legacies by donating now to your favorite charities now.
A Legacy Land Trust is also a vehicle for distribution to allow for the use, preservation, and distribution of real estate property. A Legacy Land Trust, allows for you to retitle a piece of real estate into the trust, set aside funds for the maintenance, taxes, and preservation of such land, and to designate that the land remains in the family or who may be offered a right of first refusal to purchase such property.
Many of our clients have opted to donate their body for science. IU Health offers a body donation legacy and allows for you to bequeath your body for the study and advancement of science. Under a healthcare durable power of attorney you are able to also indicate whether you wish to donate organs and tissue for life saving purposes.
Severns & Howard, P.C. specializes in estate planning and drafting such distribution documents such as the Last Will and Testament, Living Trusts, and Legacy Land Trusts so that you can leave behind your legacy while ensuring that your long term care needs are met. We can also assist with inquiring about account designations for monetary legacies through change of beneficiary forms, TOD and POD designations. We work closely with many financial advisors, institutions, and retirement custodians to accomplish your goals and ensure that your final wishes are fulfilled. Contact us today to inquire about leaving your legacy!