Mel & Pearl Shaw

Each day we are creating the legacy that one day we will leave to our family and the world. We do it with our words and daily actions. We do it with our giving. What is most important to you and your family? How do you want to be remembered?

When an organization captures your heart you think about how you can contribute to their work. You give of your time, resources and talents. You can also plan to continue your giving in the future, even when you’re gone. You can start at 20 years old or 70. Age is not a barrier.

Think about the assets you have or may accumulate – your home, IRA, 401K, stocks and bonds, rental properties, life insurance and other investments. Have you made a decision about what will happen to these upon your death? Are you willing to give some of what you have accumulated to help advance those things you believe in? You can. And you can provide for your family as well – it’s not an “either or” choice.

Take time to consider what you want your legacy to be and who you want to leave your assets to. Set aside time to talk with your family about this. Then talk with your accountant or attorney and ask for guidance. They can provide you with information or refer you to someone they trust who specializes in what you are trying to accomplish. If you don’t have an accountant or attorney, talk with friends to learn who they trust and give that person a call.

Depending upon the specifics of your assets and what you are trying to accomplish, you may be able to obtain immediate tax benefits, help your heirs decrease their tax liability, and/or increase the assets you leave to them and others. Talk to your attorney and accountant about a living trust.

Here are a few things to consider:

IRA, 401K, insurance policies, brokerage accounts. Each of these allow you to designate a beneficiary. The beneficiary is the person or organization you would like to leave the account’s funds to. You can leave all the funds within an account to one organization or you can split the funds amongst several organizations. And – yes – you can leave a portion, or the majority, to your family members at the same time. Check online for the forms you need to set this up.

Purchase a life insurance policy and designate an organization you believe in as the beneficiary. This is an often over-looked way of leaving a large gift through small monthly payments. Talk to your insurance broker about this.

Real Estate. You can leave your home and/or commercial property to your church, a college or nonprofit through your will, a trust or another estate planning vehicle. Talk with an attorney and tax advisor to learn what would be best for you.

Take the time to define your legacy. Think about who and what is important to you and take action.

Copyright 2017 – Mel and Pearl Shaw; Mel and Pearl Shaw are authors of four books on fundraising available on For help growing your fundraising visit or call (901) 522-8727.