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Frequently Asked Questions about Estate Planning
Taking the time to carefully plan what to do with your assets allows you to pass along the ideals that guide your life. Each individual legacy contributes to our financial strength and ability to conserve Western Pennsylvania’s spectacular land, water, and wildlife and to preserve Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, Fallingwater.
Below are some questions that our members frequently ask about estate planning:
A planned gift is part of estate planning. It may be given either during one’s lifetime or as part of one’s estate to support an institution and its programs. It may be in such forms as cash or other assets, a purchased annuity or a life insurance policy or retirement account that names the institution as beneficiary.
It is recommended that anyone with assets or heirs have the basic legal documents of a will or a trust, a medical directive and power of attorney. Without a will, your estate would be considered “intestate,” and all assets would be distributed according to state law and not in accordance with any personal intention.
While some planned giving options, such as some types of charitable giving annuities and trusts, require legal input, there are many free online services that provide a basic will template. It is best, though, to consult your attorney or financial advisor when establishing your estate plans.
You can specify a dollar amount, a percentage of your total estate, or whatever is left after your estate obligations are fulfilled. It is also easy to name a charity to receive a life insurance policy or retirement fund that your family may no longer need. There is no minimum, and every gift is appreciated.
To make an unrestricted bequest to the Conservancy, we recommend the following language be added to your will or as a codicil to your existing will: "I give the (sum of $____), (a specific asset), (______ shares of_____________), or (______% of the rest, residue, and remainder of my estate) to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, a nonprofit, charitable organization incorporated under the laws of Pennsylvania and presently having offices at 800 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA, 15222, to be used for its general purposes."
Yes – you are in control of your will and you can change amounts and beneficiaries. A charitable gift annuity, however, is fixed once it is established and payments begin.