How to Leave Money to Charity in Your Will vs. Other Alternatives

Leaving money to a charity is often a way for people to give back, both in life and after death. There are many reasons a person may choose to leave a small amount, a sizable amount, or even their whole estate to a charity or multiple charities. Perhaps they do not have any family or don’t think their family needs or deserves the money. Perhaps the charity is meaningful to them in a certain way or personally helpful at one point and now the person wants to give back. No matter the reason, read on to explore the many ways a person can choose to make a charitable gift whether through a will or other alternatives.


In your Last Will & Testament, you direct how you want your estate to be distributed after your death. There are a variety of ways you can incorporate planned giving into your will:

  • General Gift: You can designate a specific amount of money or a percentage of your estate to a charity
  • Specific Gift: You can also gift specific items like real estate, vehicles, artwork, jewelry, etc.
  • Residuary Gift: After all other distributions are fulfilled, you can designate that whatever remains be given to a charity.
  • Contingent Gift: The gift can only be made if certain conditions are met. For example, you create a will that leaves your entire estate to your only child. But, you state that if your only child were to die before you, then your entire estate would go to a charity of your choice.

No matter what type of gift-giving you incorporate in your will, this sort of distribution to a charity usually comes with no strings attached, meaning it does not allow anyone to monitor the way the charity uses the money.

There are other estate planning tools available that provide you a way to control how a charity uses your gift, whether it is money or a particular item. Trusts are usually the best method to accomplish this, as a trustee manages the assets according to the trust’s provisions.

Other Alternatives

Some financial advisors may encourage you to plan for giving money to charity outside of your will in order to maximize the tax benefits for both the charity and your heirs.

Retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s can incur high tax rates when distributed to your heirs. However, when distributed to qualified charities, like a non-profit, they won’t pay taxes. Consider making a charity the beneficiary of these sorts of accounts.

Before making any big decisions on leaving money to charity, consider speaking with both a tax expert and estate planning attorney to create a gift plan that meets your goals. At Kamper & Estrada, PLLC, our experienced estate planning attorney can talk you through the pros and cons of leaving money to charity in your will. Call today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about how you can give back, both in life and death.


Put 45+ Years of Experience
On Your Side

Contact Us Today
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.