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How to Leave Money Behind for New York Charities

The New York philanthropy scene is thriving and many charities have been known to benefit from the estates of individuals. Consider, for example, the estate of Brooke Astor, which gave millions to New York charities earlier this year.

In addition to the altruistic motives involved in giving to charity, there's also a huge tax incentive to give a portion of your estate to charity, particularly if your estate will be subject to estate tax. Giving to charity can lower your estate tax burden.

So if you are a New Yorker contemplating the idea of leaving money behind for charity, here are some things you need to know.

Decide which charity you want to give to.

You may already know of a charity you want to support. If you haven't decided, you can look up New York charities online.

Check the status of the charity.

Make sure that the charity is legit and that it is allowed to accept donations. There are few steps you can take: First, check the charity's status on the IRS website. Second, search for the charity's status with the New York Attorney General. Finally, check with the New York Better Business Bureau to make sure that there are no complaints against or problems with the charity.

Decide how much you want to give.

You might want to give a set dollar amount to charity. On the other hand, you might also want to leave behind a residual amount, after you've given to your family members. Or, you might want to provide a stream of income for loved ones, while giving the remainder to charity (discussed further below). Your decision to set aside a certain amount might have to do with your estate tax liability, which is something you might want to discuss with an estate planning attorney.

Decide how you want to give.

There are numerous ways to give to charity after your death. Here are the most common ones you may want to consider. The most straightforward way is to leave a bequest in your will. Other ways to give to charity after your death include a charitable remainder trust, charitable lead trust, or a charitable gift annuity. Remember, some of these methods can allow you to give to charity while providing a stream of income for your heirs.

No matter how much you have to give, leaving money to a worthy cause will be a proud legacy to leave behind you.

This post is part of FindLaw's Legal U series. We are working to help you learn what to do in your city to cope with some of the legal problems, questions, or issues that come up in daily life. Please come back to learn more from future posts in this series.

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