Normally, what is left over after you pass away is distributed based on state laws. However, if you write a legal will, rather than giving money to your descendants, you can simply choose to give your money to a charity. There are a couple of ways that you can do this.

Reducing Your Taxes

When you leave some of your inheritance to charity, you can reduce the size of your inheritance and reduce the taxes that you have to pay on it. Estate taxes come into effect when the size of your inheritance exceeds past a certain point. Then, what is left over goes to the state. If you do not want the state to collect these taxes, donating the right percentage of your estate can solve this problem.

Choosing Who to Donate To

The best way to choose a charity is to give money to it while you are living and to pay attention to the good work that the charity does. If you are happy with the charity's success, it would make sense to give one last very large charitable contribution. You may be dying because of a specific condition and you might want to donate money toward finding a cure for this condition. Or you might feel gratitude toward the hospice that cared for you in your final years and wish to donate what you have left. But overall, giving your money to charity after you die is the best way to contribute to a cause without worrying about whether you will have enough money when you need it.

Receiving Assistance

Many charities will offer assistance to those interested in donating to them by providing forms that you can fill out to assist you in leaving behind your inheritance to them. Some will write your will for you.

Consulting with Family Members

There are some challenges to leaving money to charity. If you have loved ones who would otherwise receive an inheritance, your loved ones may feel that they deserved more. Therefore, you should discuss how much of your inheritance should go to a charity. One approach is to leave specific provisions for your loved ones and to leave whatever is left over to a charity.

Keeping or Relinquishing Control of Your Assets

Determine whether you would like to attach certain strings to the charity. For example, would you like the charity money to be used to fund a specific project? There may be an animal welfare organization and you may prefer that the money be used to help a specific species, for example. You can also choose to leave the use of your donation up to the discretion of the charitable organization.  

For more information and assistance, contact a wills and estate planning lawyer, such as those at Wilson Deege Despotovich Riemenschneider & Rittgers.