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Legacy advisors share smart, simple ways to leave a legacy

Posted on Nov. 26, 2019 ( comments)

Every legacy gift tells a story. The story of a lost loved one, a trying personal journey or the story of someone who has a heart for their community. Armed with the right information and a passion for philanthropy, anyone can leave a legacy.

We gathered three members of MultiCare’s Professional Legacy Advisory Council (PLAC) to show you how easy it is to give back. PLAC is a group of financial and estate planning advisors who help promote values-based legacy giving and estate planning.

Meet the advisors:

Amy Lewis

Amy Lewis
Estate Planning Attorney with Eisenhower Carlson PLLC
Mary Bridge Children’s Foundation Board Member

Bob Pittman

Bob Pittman
Estate Planning Attorney with the Law Offices of Robert C. Pittman

Jun Chea

Jun Chea
Certified Financial Planner, Senior Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager at KeyBank
Good Samaritan Foundation Board Member

What inspires people to give a legacy gift?

Amy Lewis: Often it’s because they’re grateful for something they have received or that their family has received. Sometimes people give because it’s a way to pass values onto their family. For others, it’s to continue their lifetime giving after they’re gone.

Bob Pittman: I tend to see people leaving them in order to honor a family member or as a token of appreciation to a charity that was meaningful to them.

Who can give a legacy gift?

Pittman: Everybody. I think it’s surprising to a lot of people that they can leave a legacy gift. I was talking to someone the other day who gives to her favorite charity every year. I asked her, “What will happen to that gift when you’re gone?” Through legacy giving, it’s easy to leave even a small amount that will continue your charitable giving after your lifetime.

Lewis: Just about everyone can give a legacy gift in some way. People think they must leave a large gift or that they have to be wealthy. The reality is that there are lots of options to consider at the end of your life that can be used to give back, like retirement accounts and life insurance policies. All these things make it much easier to give.

What is one of the easiest ways to give a legacy gift?

Lewis: I think one easy way to leave a legacy gift is through a beneficiary designation on a retirement account because it doesn't require an attorney to draft anything. It's also something they can easily change and it's a tax advantage because the charity you designate won't pay income taxes on the gift like a family member or friend would.

Pittman: If an individual has some type of permanent life insurance, they could add a charity as a partial beneficiary. Another simple way to give back is to include your favorite charities in your will.

Does a legacy gift have to be large to make a difference?

Jun Chea: Not at all. It just has to be a meaningful amount for the donor.

Pittman: Everybody can leave something meaningful. Small, but consistent gifts are important and accessible to everyone. They add up over time. If you can leave money so that your charity receives a steady income stream from you every year, even after death, you will make a huge difference.

Do you have to be wealthy to have an estate?

Chea: Everybody has an estate. A retired estate planning attorney once told me, “When you have a pulse, you don’t have an estate. When you don’t have a pulse, you have an estate.” It could be very small, but everyone has one.

Lewis: Not having an estate is a common misconception. People forget that they have a house, retirement accounts, life insurance — assets that they can't fully access while alive but they will be there when they pass. Most people have an estate of some kind, and with that, they can make a gift.

Is it possible for people to leave money for their loved ones and their favorite charity?

Chea: There are lots of different techniques. You could set up a charitable lead or remainder trust. A remainder trust means family members would receive current income from the trust and the residual goes to charity. A lead trust means the current income goes to charity and the residual goes to family members.

Lewis: Most often, people just pick a percentage split on things. A lot of the time it requires us to talk to people, so they understand what their estate will actually consist of. I ask folks who are planning on giving each of their kids $500,000, if you gave each kid $450,000 would that still be enough for them? You could give that remainder to charity.

What advice do you have for people who are just beginning to explore legacy giving?

Chea: Start with what you are passionate about. Do your due diligence on selecting the charities you want to work with. I highly encourage people to connect with others.

Lewis: I often advise people to chat with the organization they are considering giving to in order to understand how they can give back. I advise people to use free opportunities, like those offered by Thompson & Associates through the MultiCare Foundations, to explore all of the possibilities.

For more information on legacy giving, contact our gift planning team at [email protected] or 253-403-3093, or visit
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