Letter: Donations are legacies

When was the last time you contemplated your personal legacy? Most of us think in terms of instilling values in our children. But it can be so much more than that, such as bequeathing support to a favorite charity to ensure those in need receive valuable assistance for many years to come. With May designated as Leave a Legacy Month, we all have an opportunity to think about the values and financial assistance and support we can leave behind that will continue to make a difference in others’ lives.

Choosing to donate to a nonprofit organization, like Hospice of Michigan, is a wonderful way that we can leave our personal mark on this world.

More than 82 percent of southeast Michigan residents donate to charities of their choice every year, yet less than nine percent leave a bequest through their wills or estates. When a donor passes away without a planned gift in place, that valuable support ends. As baby boomers age, health care charities like Hospice of Michigan, are requiring ever increasing philanthropic support to continue providing services.

The idea that only the wealthy can leave planned gifts is false. There are many ways to incorporate charitable donations into estate planning, including bequeathing a percentage of finances – rather than a specific dollar amount – to a nonprofit. Even specific assets, such as an IRA, a 401(k) or even a life insurance policy can be earmarked for charity, with the added benefit that retirement assets left to a nonprofit pass to that organization tax-free.

Nonprofits rely on the charitable legacies of their donors as those contributions are vital in meeting the needs of their recipients every day of the year.

When someone leaves a bequest through their will, that gift enables the charity to serve people in need – those who do not have insurance, are underinsured or may be in limbo as they await Medicaid support. At Hospice of Michigan, we also provide patients and families additional comfort through complementary therapies, and offer the whole community extensive grief support services.

What will your legacy be? Hospice of Michigan’s legacy is to make certain that patients and families benefit from our care for generations to come. I encourage you to begin planning your own charitable legacy today. Think about the significant impact you can make on your favorite cause and those who depend on that help.

Robert Cahill

president and CEO, Hospice of Michigan