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Estate planning decisions: charitable giving

Charitable giving is a common part of many Pennsylvania residents’ estate plans. Designating some portion of an estate to a charitable cause can reduce tax liability and do something good for the community at the same time. When making this decision it is important to consider it carefully since diverting funds to charitable causes often reduces the share remaining for family members.

One example of how to decide where to designate charitable funds comes from inventor and business man Jon Huntsman Sr., who first came into wealth after he invented the clamshell-shaped box used to hold Big Mac hamburgers at McDonald’s. Later ventures were even more successful as he established companies that invented various specialty textiles and other technologically advanced parts.

Mr. Huntsman is among one of the people who signed the pledge propagated by Bill and Melinda Gates for individuals to give away half of their wealth to charitable causes. While this admirable goal may not be accessible for a Pennsylvania family of modest means, the concept of designating a particular portion of one’s earnings to charitable causes does resonate with many.

However it can be hard to make a determination about where to put the money and how it can be best utilized. In Mr. Huntsman’s case, a dedication to cancer research and treatment emerged after his own battle with the disease. Personal experience can be a powerful motivator, particularly if there are others in the same situation who might not have the means to access the best resources.

Source: New York Times, “Jon Huntsman Sr.’s Early Calling to Philanthropy,” Paul Sullivan, Nov. 1, 2013.

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