Estate planning leaves legacy, impacts community

In our daily busyness, it can be easy to overlook the many benefits of living in a community.

When schools face financial challenges, caring citizens create education foundations to enrich the lives of our children.

When the expense of college becomes daunting, community foundations provide scholarships to help make that opportunity a reality.

When we become ill, a local, nonprofit hospital provides a place of healing — made possible in no small part by a supporting charitable foundation.

Several local charities, supported by armies of volunteers, provide bridges of restoration to the vulnerable who live among us.

Creating an estate plan is not only a responsible way to plan for the future; it provides an opportunity for thoughtful reflection on ways we can give back to the communities that have invested in us.

Making current gifts from income are important components of charitable giving. However, an estate plan provides a means of leveraging assets to make a significant and lasting difference to the community institutions that will continue to serve our descendants after we are gone.

There are many ways to incorporate charitable giving into an estate plan.

Simple gifts to specific charities of a specific dollar amount or a percentage of your estate can easily be included in your last will and testament or in a revocable living trust.

More complex tools, such as the charitable remainder trust, can provide a charitable tax deduction against current earnings, an income stream for life, and a significant bequest to a charity on death.

Planned giving of appreciated assets can provide both an income tax deduction and can eliminate capital gains taxes that would otherwise be due.

Every estate plan is unique and can be carefully crafted to balance the objectives of both providing a legacy for your family and making a difference in your community.

Making the effort to create an estate plan that thoughtfully reflects your priorities is a rewarding experience.

When your level of financial success enables you to engage in current planned giving, the ability to see the difference your generosity has made and will continue to make is gratifying.

The important thing to do now is to make the creation of your estate plan a priority so the opportunity to make choices that will impact your future, your family’s future, and your community’s future for the better is not lost.

If you do not know where to begin, the Hancock Regional Hospital Foundation has numerous resources to help provide you with direction and can refer you to professional resources in the community that can assist in weighing your options and creating your estate plan.

Kevin Harvey is a partner in the Greenfield law firm of Allen Wellman McNew Harvey and a member of the Hancock Regional Hospital Foundation’s Planned Giving Committee.