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Yes You Can! Gift Planning in Uncertain Times


From time to time in Methodist publications, one encounters a typo: the letters in “United” are transposed into “Untied.” While this has always generated a knowing chuckle, it now seems like a plausible name for our beloved community of believers as it is roiled by disagreement and division. 

As you plan a gift to your church or any other favorite UM charity, you may be wondering whether your plans will be upset by unknown changes ahead. There are two things to remember:
1. There have always been, and will always be, unknown changes ahead.
2. Wise planners can – and should – build clarity and flexibility into their gift plans.  

If / Then
In any gift document (will, trust, beneficiary designation) clearly identify your intended beneficiary (e.g., the First UMC of Cityville, Missouri), its name, physical location and tax ID number, if available. The second important step is to think about what are called “contingencies.” In other words, you can give written instructions that “...if something changes, then my gift plans will change in the following way...”.  

A common example of this occurs at the Foundation when a donor creates a standard endowment that provides an annual income distribution to the donor’s church (the charitable beneficiary). The administrative document often says, “if, however, the Beneficiary ceases to exist, then the annual distribution shall be paid to…” another named church or charity. A final catch-all contingency is added that says, “…then to the Foundation to use within its sole discretion for purposes as near as possible to my original charitable intent.” 

What’s in a Name?
The possibility of denominational splits or name changes may demand some additional specificity. Therefore, many donors may want to include instructions such as, “If the Beneficiary changes its name or denominational affiliation but maintains its primary charitable and religious operations and mission, then it shall remain the Beneficiary.” In any event, strive to express your wishes clearly and build in some flexibility for your future fiduciary to adapt to changing times. 

Your Missouri UM Foundation is here to help you and your professional estate planning advisors. We can share sample documents and help you make a well-planned gift. We are a fiduciary for the administration of permanent endowments, gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts and donor advised funds. We ensure that donor instructions are followed and funds are administered prudently and appropriately. Our mission is perpetual, and the mission continues!

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