How to Leave a Legacy for Generations to Come

Oct. 16, 2023

A recent study by Google Trends found a significant increase in online searches for estate planning terms in 2022. With so many questions surrounding how to leave a legacy for generations to come we connected with Johni Hays of Thompson & Associates, who serves as the Community Foundation’s Gift Planning Counsel, to answer common questions we receive as we assist charitable giving fund holders with their long-term planning. 

We often hear estate planning can seem overwhelming. As you assist clients, what do you recommend should be included in every comprehensive estate plan?


As I sit down with clients, I encourage them to have four primary estate planning areas covered. First, they should have a Power of Attorney for both their finances and their healthcare to ensure there is a clear path to meet their intentions. Second, and I know it seems basic, but everyone should have a will. Over 50% of people don’t have one and it is a shame such a critical piece of planning for the future is often missed. Third, ensure all beneficiary designations are up to date for life insurance and retirement accounts as these are not controlled by your will. I once had a client who listed his mother as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy, and she had passed away 20 years prior. Fourth, consider your IRAs and if they are being maximized for tax effectiveness. It is common to name heirs as IRA beneficiaries, but if you have charitable interests, it may be far more efficient from a tax perspective to use IRAs to give back and leave different non-taxable assets to loved ones. Once you have these areas addressed, store the documents in a safety deposit box or home safe and ensure the executor of your estate can access them. You may even consider giving your executor a copy of each document to store in their own secure location.

What is the question you are most commonly asked? 


“Do I need a trust and how can a trust benefit me and my family?” The answer is that it depends on everyone’s circumstances and goals. To find out if a trust is most effective for you, contact an estate planning attorney for a consultation. Use consultations to learn more about the best ways to take care of your loved ones and charitable giving goals. Additionally, consultations will assist you in determining the estate planning attorney who is the right partner for you. Once you find an estate planning attorney, they can assist you in determining if a trust makes sense and, if so, what type of trust best meets your needs.

For your clients with charitable interests, what makes the Community Foundation a good partner to facilitate giving goals for generations to come? 


I tell clients that if they are interested in passing on their values as well as their valuables, the Community Foundation is a natural partner. The Community Foundation’s Strategic Giving Services can help facilitate meaningful conversations with future generations to pass along the gift of giving. Additionally, Community Foundation charitable giving funds provide a simpler alternative to private foundations. For example, a Community Foundation legacy fund provides you the opportunity to ensure charitable giving is part of your estate plans, with the flexibility to change the causes you plan to support over time. You name your legacy fund and the assets that will be used to support it in your will, trust or beneficiary form and you can work with the Community Foundation to adjust the causes you would like to invest in, without the hassle of continually revising your will or trust.

To learn more about how charitable giving can play a part in your estate plans, contact Lynne Yontz, CAP®, FCEP at (515) 447-4203.