By Susan Landis
Editor's Note: This article was provided by Susan Landis, executive director of the Beckley Area Foundation in support of “Wills Week,” an initiative of Leave A Legacy of West Virginia. Local members include Beckley Area Foundation, Community Foundation of the Virginias, Concord University, Hinton Area Foundation, New River Community & Technical College, Tamarack Foundation, and United Way of Southern West Virginia.
The Beckley Area Foundation is one of several charitable organizations in southern West Virginia that belong to Leave a Legacy. Members encourage area citizens to have an up-to-date will and to consider inclusion of a gift that reflects their charitable objectives.
Without a will or living trust, people surrender control of their property and assets to the courts. Also, estate planning can enable individuals to continue to support their favorite organization’s charitable work well into the future.
“Whether you think of yourself as rich or poor, or somewhere in between, leaving a charitable gift in your will can make a difference,” commented Susan Landis, executive director of BAF. “Even a small amount can have a big impact.”
“Some people think they must choose between leaving a gift to their family or to their favorite charity. You can do both, and some charitable gifts may actually save your family money by decreasing inheritance taxes.”
In the past year, a number of Raleigh County residents have utilized BAF to leave a legacy that will both serve as a permanent memorial to their family and support their charitable interests for generations to come. Jean Guy, Nancy Rickards, Andrew Holland, Charlotte Staples, H.L. Kirkpatrick, Patricia Locascio and Loretta Hunter left testamentary gifts that created permanent endowments which will benefit the Foundation’s Annual Community Grant Program, animal rescue organizations, Helping Hands Resource Center, the Salvation Army and Hospice of Southern West Virginia.
Leave a Legacy encourages everyone to contact a financial planner, lawyer or accountant and ask for help in establishing a charitable gift. Think beyond cash; individuals can leave stocks, real estate, insurance policies and personal property to charitable organizations. Another option is to make your favorite charity a beneficiary of your life insurance, pension plan or IRA.
“Prepare a will. Remember the needs of your family and your community,” concluded Landis. “It’s a legacy worth considering.”