Many people desire to benefit a charity, but cannot donate property to the charity while still alive. For example, an individual may need certain property to cover their living expenses or rising health care costs. A bequest is a gift to a charity at the time of one’s death. It is the simplest type of planned gift and one of the easiest to implement. Donors can leave property to a charity by including a bequest in their will or trust, or, in the case of property that passes by beneficiary designation, a gift can be made by designating specific charities as beneficiaries.
With a bequest, donors can retain ownership and use of the property during their lifetime and still benefit the charity by leaving the property to them upon their death. The charities benefit by receiving cash or property, the donors’ heirs benefit, because the amount given to charity is not subject to federal estate tax, and the donors benefit through the flexibility of being able to use and control the property while alive.