Planned Giving - Remember Saint Luke's

Estate planning, tax issues, and other end of life decisions seem so daunting to many people that fully 60 percent of Americans die without making a will. We are constantly reminded that each of us needs to plan for our future well being, and for our heirs. 

In an effort to help parishioners of Saint Luke’s navigate these complicated issues, our Stewardship Committee has prepared this introductory explanation, intended to provide you with some basic information on Wills, Trusts and other estate planning tools with St. Luke’s in mind, if that is your desire.

Wills & Trusts

No document expresses your appreciation of life more deliberately than your trust or will. This written testament reflects the beliefs and values that you most cherish. Through your trust or will you can make certain that your interest in Saint Luke’s will be carried into the future, just as we are benefiting from those who have gone before us. A gift made through a trust or will is called a bequest or a devise.

Bequests

Bequests may vary in size from modest amounts to thousands of dollars depending on the circumstances of the individual. Bequests can be made in the form of cash, securities, real estate, art, and other property. If you would like to make a bequest to Saint Luke’s, it can take many forms. An unrestricted bequest is the most flexible for Saint Luke’s because it allows discretion to the church leadership to use your gift where it may most be needed. A restricted bequest may be designated to endow specific areas or programs at Saint Luke’s, such as music, outreach, the building, and so on. A bequest can establish a trust that provides lifetime income for one or more beneficiaries whom you designate with the remainder ultimately coming to one or several ministries at Saint Luke’s

Contingent Bequest

If you have family obligations which preclude an outright bequest for the benefit of the church, then naming Saint Luke’s as a contingent beneficiary should be considered. Under a contingent bequest, Saint Luke’s would receive the bequest only if the individual beneficiaries for whom you would provide are deceased.

Planned Giving - Trusts

 A planned gift is generally made during the lifetime of the donor to an individual or an organization such as Saint Luke’s. Saint Luke’s is able to participate in the Episcopal Church Foundation planned giving programs in cooperation with the Diocese of Maine’s Stewardship and Planned Giving office. Together you and experts can work to establish a plan. Sometimes these planned gifts are established as a legal document called a trust.

Often, a planned gift involves a gift to a charity such as Saint Luke’s that is postponed or, in some instances, that exists only for a specific period of time. For instance, if income is needed by the donor immediately and the donor would also like to leave something to Saint Luke’s after he or she is gone, the donor might create a trust or an annuity with highly appreciated assets, with the remainder passing to the church after the donor’s death. By doing this, the donor’s present income will increase and Saint Luke’s will receive the underlying assets upon which the income is based after the donor’s death. These gifts generally qualify for a tax deduction. On the other hand, if the financial resources are not now needed, but will be needed later for family members, a special trust can be established that gives present income to Saint Luke’s and gives the investments to the heirs. Like other planned gifts, it provides the donor with a tax deduction.

Typical Assets Used in Planned Gifts

Types of assets that might be given in a planned gift or a will include cash, real estate, stocks and bonds, life insurance, and retirement funds.

Cash

Some people choose to leave cash to their church. It can be a fixed amount or a percentage of their estate. There is a growing sense that it is appropriate to tithe 10% to charity, and that can include many different kinds of organizations such as Saint Luke’s, the Diocese of Maine or a secular charity such as a hospital.

Stocks & Bonds

If your stocks and bonds have appreciated in value, you might wish to consider donating them. Should the stocks have a low yield and your need is for greater income, Saint Luke’s and the Diocese can help to arrange a gift partnership (like a charitable gift annuity) and avoid capital gain taxes plus provide an income.

Retirement Funds

Some people will have assets in the form of retirement funds to give away. 401k and 403b plans are established through tax-free funds, and tax is paid by the recipient upon withdrawal from the plan. If the recipient dies and there are leftover funds, those funds are subject to both income and estate taxes unless these funds are given to charity.

Real Estate

Real estate, whether a primary residence, second home, commercial property, or undeveloped land, is an attractive option for some donors. Real estate may also be given through a plan which permits the donor lifetime occupancy (Life Estate Contract), with the property going to the church at the donor’s death. The donor receives an income tax deduction in the year of the gift, and capital gains taxes are reduced or avoided if the property has increased in value since he or she assumed ownership.

Life Insurance

The gift of a life insurance policy represents a way to make a significant contribution to Saint Luke’s for a relatively small premium. You may donate a fully paid-up policy, a policy upon which premiums are still owed, or a newly-purchased policy. In each instance, by naming Saint Luke’s as irrevocable owner and beneficiary, you are entitled to a charitable deduction. Alternatively, you could simply name Saint Luke’s as the beneficiary of all or some portion of your life insurance policy.

For more information

At St. Luke's there are financial planners who would be happy to meet with you personally or at least provide you with a framework to consider planned giving. Please contact our office at 772-5434 or email our office administtrator, Lynne England at lengland@stlukesportland.org for a referral, all in strict confidence. Thank you.