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How to leave a Legacy


By Robert Nomberg
President & CEO
Richmond Jewish Foundation

Our community’s Life and Legacy initiative continues into the new year.

Designed to increase awareness of the importance of creating bequests for endowments for our community, Life and Legacy is now in its fifth year.

Over the last five years, over 300 families have pledged to create 530 legacies for our community; for a projected $20.5 million. 70% of these legacy commitments have already been formalized.

If national trends hold true, over 90% of these gifts will come from a donor’s will. Your will is an important way of looking after the future of your family and friends. After taking care of loved ones, for many people, the next priority is leaving a gift to a charity. But what is the best way to go about doing this?

What exactly is a Legacy?

The dictionary defines a legacy as money or property bequeathed to another in their will. A will ensures your wishes are carried out. Many people don’t realize that non-profits are heavily reliant on these permanent gifts. While most of our donors support multitudes of charities throughout their lifespan, most don’t realize the importance of naming them in their will to continue their support.

That’s why it’s important to take action now, as nobody knows what tomorrow brings and Richmond Jewish Foundation is here to help.

Preparation is everything

If you don’t prepare your will properly, you will have no control over what happens to your money and other assets after you pass away. The government will determine how your assets are distributed, with the possible consequence that what you leave behind passes to beneficiaries you would not have selected.

You should seek legal assistance when drafting a will to make sure everything is in order and as you wish. We are available if you want to talk with us about finding an advisor; there are plenty of properly trained people out there (you could also ask family and friends for a recommendation).

The size of your Legacy doesn’t matter

As we’ve mentioned, legacies are a very important source of income for many charities, and it doesn’t matter what size your gift is, rest assured it will be put to good use, greatly appreciated and combined with gifts from others.

Some people believe that only wealthy people leave money to charity when they die, however, this isn’t the case. Without the generosity of people leaving a legacy in their will, many of the charities we know and support today wouldn’t exist.

Finding a cause and making a will

Writing a will is relatively inexpensive and easy when drafted by a properly qualified professional and as we’ve said, the gift you make can be as small or large as you like.

You may have a favorite cause, or are close to a certain charity because they helped you or somebody you love. There are charities here in Richmond, nationally, and in Israel helping children, the elderly and infirm – whatever your passion or area of interest, there is a nonprofit that could benefit greatly from your gift.

At RJF we can help you create a permanent endowment with as little as $5000. Funded at this level, your fund will create an annual gift of $200 to your favorite charity, and as the fund’s balance grows the size of the gift grows.

Changing a Will to include a charity

If you want to leave a gift to charity but have already made a will, that is not a problem, there is a simple way you can change it: by writing a codicil. A codicil is a document used to make minor changes to a will that has already been written.

If you already have a will and an attorney, ask about amending your will and they will take you through the process while you decide which charity or charities you want to include in your legacy gift.

We at RJF want you to experience the good feelings of having a well-considered and well-crafted will (or other comprehensive estate planning document).

We encourage you to take care of this very important matter. And to help you, we offer a secure online interactive “wills guide” which can be accessed here.

We can also be reached at Robert@rjfoundation.org or (804) 545-8656.

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