Charitable Estate Planning

After one spouse dies, the surviving spouse often chooses to leave the entirety of his or her estate to his or her surviving children. Although this is the most common arrangement, it is certainly not the only option for post-death distribution of assets. In drafting an estate plan, a person can leave his or her assets to whomever he or she chooses.

Although surviving children may be upset to discover that the assets they would have otherwise inherited will be given to charity, a recent article notes that this should not deter people from leaving their assets to charitable organizations. If a child disputes your decision to give your assets to charity, they may decide to challenge your will.

Successful will challenges are rare, as a litigant needs to present a compelling reason to convince a court to change a will. A compelling reason to change a will may be that the drafter was under undue influence when he or she executed the will, or that he or she wasn’t competent to draft the will in the first place.

Will challenges tend to become quite costly. The cost alone is often a powerful deterrent to beneficiaries considering a will challenge. If you are worried that your surviving children will challenge your will, despite the costs, consider sitting them down and discussing your choice to give to charity. Listen to their concerns, and explain why you ultimately decided to distribute your assets the way you did.


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