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9 Easy Ways to Build a Strong Estate Plan

Taking the time to create an estate plan can help you decide how to distribute the hard-earned resources you have accumulated throughout your lifetime. Follow this framework to build a plan that achieves your personal and charitable goals and recognizes the people and causes you cherish most.

  1. Determine which people and charities should receive your assets and whether the gifts should be made outright or in a trust. Contact us to learn about the variety of ways to remember Galapagos Conservancy in your estate plans.
  2. Select a trusted family member, friend or responsible party—such as a bank or trust company—to administer your estate, which includes following the instructions in your will and distributing assets.
  3. Prepare an advanced directive (also known as a health care power of attorney) to indicate who should make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. You should also decide if you want a living will, which directs that no extraordinary life-sustaining medical procedures will be used to prolong life when there is no hope of recovery.
  4. Outline your funeral plans, including the names of people you want to be notified after
    your passing.
  5. Calculate your net worth and list all of your financial assets, including bank account numbers, insurance policies and retirement plan assets.
  6. Compile a list of all of your personal data, including Social Security number, date of birth and digital information, such as online accounts, user names and passwords.
  7. Record the locations of important documents, such as your vehicle title, marriage certificate, copies of prior years' tax returns, as well as the name of your accountant and estate planning attorney.
  8. Ensure that your will is available outside of your safe-deposit box, which in some states can be closed when you die and not immediately accessible.
  9. Consult an estate planning attorney or tax advisor for assistance as you develop your plan.

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If you're considering naming Galapagos Conservancy in your will as you make or update your estate plan, please let us know so we can ensure that your gift is used as you intended.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Galapagos Conservancy a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I, [name], of [city, state ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to the Galapagos Conservancy [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to GC or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate, or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the gift tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to GC as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and receive an immediate federal income tax charitable deduction. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to GC as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and GC where you agree to make a gift to GC and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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