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Chris Jones: Charitable Foundations Are the Smart Way to Give

The Santa Barbara community has a long tradition of charitable giving. We are so well known for our charitable tradition that we have been the subject of numerous regional and national articles on that topic.

One of our many resources are charitable foundations. These organizations both support the many charities in our community and provide a resource for you in making charitable gifts in your estate planning.

One of the two primary objectives of estate planning is peace of mind, knowing that your wishes will be carried out during your lifetime and at your death. Your wishes may include providing for charitable causes.

However, you may be concerned that either the charity may not have financial stability or that your bequest may not be used in the way that you wish. The solution is to use an independent charitable trustee, one which does not have divided loyalties.

Charitable foundations can serve as your independent trustee for charitable gifts. They can receive money for which you get a charitable deduction and provide independent oversight to ensure that the money is used as you directed.

Because of their financial strength, charitable foundations can often provide the bookkeeping, administrative and investment functions at much lower administrative cost than other choices. This means that more money actually reaches the programs that you want to benefit.

Moreover, foundations have experience and know-how in how best to manage funds in low-risk investments.

Foundations can also provide certain kinds of gift funds that are not available with individual charities. As an example, El Adobe Corporation, which is administered by the Santa Barbara Foundation, operates as the equivalent to your own personal family foundation. With a minimum of $5,000 you can contribute to this fund and recommend how the money is used for any tax-exempt organization within the United States.

These funds minimize the costs, paperwork and time that would otherwise be expended for a personal foundation.

Foundations can also provide a great deal of flexibility in having your wishes carried out. I have had many clients who have told me that they want to use the funds for a certain type of charitable organization, or for particular programs. By working with a foundation, they can help you identify the particular charities within the categories that you are seeking, or determine which charities will best carry out the programs to which you are committed.

Using a private foundation guarantees that your charitable wishes will be honored. They provide an efficient solution to gain the best bang for your buck in keeping the administrative costs to a minimum.

Chris Jones is an attorney at Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell LLP, a Santa Barbara law firm. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own. This article is not intended to provide legal advice. For legal advice on any of the information in this post, click here for the form or phone number on the Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell Contact Us page.

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