Remembering the American Red Cross in your will is a wonderful way for you to make a lasting gift. Large or small, your bequest will make an important contribution to our long-term strength and our ability to carry on with our activities.
But what if you don't have a will or living trust? You are not alone. Most Americans don’t have a will.
If you die without a will, the laws of your state will decide how your estate is divided. Typically, the probate court will divide your estate among your closest surviving family members according to a formula, and none of your estate can go to the American Red Cross or any other charity. If you wish to have a say in how your estate is distributed, you must have a will or living trust. We encourage you to work with an experienced attorney to create a will or living trust that accomplishes your goals for your estate.
Ways you can define a charitable gift in your estate plan
There are several ways that you can define the amount of your charitable gift to the Red Cross. They are:
- A gift of a particular amount of money. For example, you give $25,000.
- A gift of a specific item or items. For example, you give 1,000 shares of ABC Corporation.
- A gift that will be made only if one or more conditions are met. For example, you give $25,000 provided your spouse does not survive you.
- A gift that will be made from the remainder of your estate once all other bequests, debts, and taxes have been paid. For example, you give 25% of the remainder of your estate. Often called a "residuary bequest," this approach assures that your family will be taken care of before your estate makes a bequest to us.
Ways to specify how we may use your bequest
You have several options for telling the Red Cross how we may use your bequest, once we receive it. They are:
- An unrestricted bequest – This is a gift for our general purposes. This can be the most useful kind of gift because it allows us to put your gift to the best possible use at the time we receive it.
- A restricted bequest – This is a gift for a specific use, such as a special project or program that is important to you. It is best for you to consult with us before placing restrictions your bequest to be sure we can carry out your wishes.
- An endowed bequest – This is a gift where our organization invests your donation along with the rest of our endowment. We distribute these funds in accordance with our endowment spending policy. This approach assures that your gift will continue to benefit us long after you're gone. An endowed bequest can be restricted or unrestricted.
- An honorary bequest – This is a gift made in honor of someone else. Any form of bequest can also be an honorary bequest. We would be pleased to recognize the people you wish to honor with your gift.
Make sure we can carry out your wishes
It is very important that your bequest be accurately and clearly described in your estate plan so that we can carry out your wishes as you intended. We are pleased to consult with you regarding the terms of your bequest to make sure that we will be able to carry out your intentions. In order to avoid any possible question that your bequest is to our organization, be sure to include our full legal name and our federal tax identification number in your bequest.
Legal name: American Red Cross
Current Address: P.O. Box 75156 Washington, DC 20013-7515
Tax identification number: 53-0196605
We are happy to provide you with sample bequest language to assist you and your attorney.
You have complete flexibility to change your bequest at any time. If circumstances change in a way that makes you want to revise your gift to us, you can.
Because your bequest is revocable, you do not receive an income tax charitable deduction when you create it. Rather, your estate will receive an estate tax deduction for the full value of your bequest in the year it is made. Depending on a variety of factors, including the size of your estate and estate tax law at the time your estate is settled, this deduction may or may not save estate taxes.
In addition to adding bequest language to your will, here are a few other simple ways for you to make a bequest to us:
- Make the American Red Cross a designated beneficiary of a life insurance policy.
- Make the American Red Cross a designated beneficiary of an IRA or other retirement plan.
- Make the American Red Cross a designated beneficiary of savings bonds.
- Instruct your bank to "pay on death" to the American Red Cross some or all of a specific bank account.
- Instruct your brokerage firm to "transfer on death" to the American Red Cross some or all of a specific brokerage or other financial account.
Please let us know if you have included the American Red Cross in your estate plans. We would welcome the opportunity to thank you for your thoughtful gift and to confirm that we can carry out your wishes.
Catherine Hanney, a widow, has been a supporter of the Red Cross for many years. Catherine is in good health now, but does not want to be a financial burden to her children should she require expensive health care in the future.
the Red Cross is one of two charities to which she has been most dedicated. She would like to make a lasting gift to each of them in memory of her husband. After discussing her options with her estate planning advisor, she decides to create a residuary bequest in her will for each of her two favorite charities. Each charity will receive 50% of the remainder of her estate after all other obligations, such as bequests to her children and grandchildren and taxes, have been taken care of.
- Catherine’s assets will remain available to her should she need them.
- The revocable nature of her gift will minimize the possibility that she will ever need financial help from her children.
- If her estate is worth what she expects when it is settled, she will be able to provide generous legacy gifts to the two charities that have meant the most to her and her late husband.