The Sierra Club and The Sierra Club Foundation have received many of their most significant commitments in the form of bequests. We are deeply grateful to those friends who, through their will or living trust, make a gift to support the environmental work of future generations.
Bequests are a flexible way to support the environment while maintaining control of your assets. Because bequests are revocable you can make changes to the provisions in your will or trust anytime in the future.
Sierra Club and The Sierra Club Foundation
Bequests to the Sierra Club can fund national and regional lobbying activities. This support is particularly valuable because legislation is usually the final step in formally establishing clean environmental policies such as: Smart Energy Solutions (efficient, renewable fuels, and innovative technologies), America's Wild Legacy (protecting our wildlife and their habitat and preserving our wild and special places) and Safe and Healthy Communities (fighting pollution of our water and air and toxic threats to communities across America).
Sierra Club: Since lobbying is not a charitable activity, bequests to the Sierra Club are not tax-deductible for estate tax purposes. Yet with proper estate planning it may be possible to make a significant bequest to support the Club's legislative work and avoid estate taxation. Sample bequest language
The Sierra Club Foundation: Bequests for The Sierra Club Foundation are charitable and therefore tax-deductible. Because bequests to The Foundation are generally exempt from federal or state inheritance taxes, and subject to an unlimited deduction, you may find that a commitment through your will--combined with an outright pledge or a life income gift--results in a much larger donation than you might have thought. Sample bequest language
President Obama has now signed in to law the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. Under this act there is a two-year adjustment of the estate tax which provides for a $5 million individual exemption. The status of the federal estate tax is uncertain after 2012, but please know that we will be following the topic and will provide you with any updates. If you think your estate will not be subject to estate taxes, or is within this $5 million amount, in most instances your bequest can be planned for Sierra Club without adverse tax consequences. In the event you believe your estate may exceed the estate tax shelter at the time of your death, you may wish to plan your bequest for The Sierra Club Foundation so that your estate can claim a charitable deduction. Or maximize your gift to Sierra Club without estate tax with the balance benefiting The Sierra Club Foundation. Please see attached language for more details.
Estate Tax Shelter
2010 Estate tax repealed
2011 $5 million
2012 $5 million
If your estate will not be subject to estate taxes, in most instances your bequest can be planned for the Sierra Club without adverse tax consequences. In the event you believe your estate may exceed the estate tax shelter at the time of your death, you may wish to plan your bequest for The Sierra Club Foundation so that your estate can claim a charitable deduction.
An additional alternative is to plan a bequest to the Sierra Club free of tax with any remaining amount from your bequest then passing to The Sierra Club Foundation. Sample bequest language is available.
Please contact us and consult your attorney or tax advisor for assistance in establishing a legacy that will reflect your concern for the environment.
Choosing How Your Bequest Will Be Used
Bequests are a vital and continuing resource that strengthens the Sierra Club's ability to preserve our natural heritage for future generations. Most donors plan their gifts in the form of general bequests. This general support is most helpful because it allows us to direct funds to our most crucial conservation priorities. The aggregate of these bequests amounts to a significant portion of the resources available for ongoing projects. However, should you have a specific environmental or program interest, or if you wish to fund an endowment, we would be happy to assist you in planning a gift that meets both your interests and the goals of the Sierra Club.
Types of Bequests to Consider:
General bequest: Most donors plan a bequest in the form of a general-use gift. A general bequest can be a dollar amount or percentage of your estate. This general support is most helpful to us because it allows us to direct funds to our most crucial conservation priorities such as climate change.
Specific bequest: You designate a specific dollar amount or specific asset (e.g., stocks, bonds, real estate, mutual fund shares, etc.) to a specific beneficiary. Be mindful if you no longer own the property the beneficiary receives nothing.
Residuary bequest: You designate all or a portion of your estate's residue (what is left after payment of taxes, debts, settlement costs have been satisfied) to a beneficiary or beneficiaries.
Contingent bequest: Can be a general, specific or residuary bequest that designates a contingent beneficiary if the primary beneficiary predeceases you.
Restricted bequest: Sometimes a donor may wish to restrict their bequest to a particular environmental program. Should you have a specific environmental interest, or if you wish to establish an endowment, we would be happy to assist you in planning a gift that meets your interests and the long-term goals of the Sierra Club.
What If I Have Already Written My Will or Trust?
If you have already made out your will and wish to amend it to include the Sierra Club or the Sierra Club Foundation you can consider using codicil language to make your desired changes. Your attorney can prepare a codicil which adds a new bequest while reaffirming the other terms of your will. If you have created a revocable trust you can make changes through an amendment.
Already Planning a Bequest?
If you are planning a bequest, you may wish to consider the financial benefits of a life income trust. Many people have realized significant advantages by using a major portion of a planned bequest for the establishment of such a trust. If you would like to see how a life income trust might benefit your specific situation, the Gift Planning Program would be happy to prepare a financial analysis for you.
Your bequest should be carefully planned to provide the maximum benefits for both your family and our environmental work. We are happy to provide you with tailored bequest language to ensure your gift is directed per your wishes.
If you have made a provision in your estate plans for Sierra Club or The Sierra Club Foundation, we thank you for your generosity. Please let us know so that we may express our gratitude and recognize you as a member of the Rachel Carson Society.
Please consult with your attorney or accountant regarding the tax ramifications of your bequest.