How Should Gifts Be Counted? Part III

Some charities count bequest provisions in wills of living individuals. Usually, the charity requires a copy of that portion of the will that provides for the charity.

If it were up to me, I’d use the “two sets of books” approach discussed last time in connection with pledges. For “public consumption” I’d have a minimum age requirement, such as age 75. I’d also include future bequests in a separate category.

On the closely held second set of books I’d want detail on [a] the likelihood the bequest provision will come into play, and [b] some discussion of the time range the provision will likely come into play.

This discussion of bequest counting is closely related to the discussion of counting pledges.

There are various ways of — arguments as to ways of — counting charitable remainder trusts. If it were up to me, I’d opt for simplicity.

Why simplicity? Any method of counting CRTs is artificial.

There are two simple ways of counting. One is to count the amount transferred to the trust. The other is to count the charitable contribution amount calculated, typically, by the donee organization’s software.

I’d use the charitable contribution amount. Not simply for the sake of simplicity, but also because the software discounts (however imperfectly) for the time value of money.

Perhaps the best simple way to count CRTs is to show two columns: [1] the amount transferred to the trust, and [2] the corresponding charitable contribution amount. If I were a board member, that’s the simple presentation I’d like to see on the closely held set of books.

Anyway, this whole discussion of counting has been heavy on concepts and light on details for a particular reason. The conceptual approach to gift counting allows one to see the forest. The detailed approach is to look at individual trees.

I’d be interested in certain trees but generally prefer to view the whole forest.

by Jon Tidd, Esq

Posted in blog.

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