By Andrew Zashin*

Whether you have $1,000 to give or $1 million, your estate plan may include some type of planned giving to your favorite charitable organization.

Planned giving at its most basic, simply means a donation that is made with consideration of the benefit to the recipient and to the donor (e.g. tax benefits) and possibly to future heirs as well. Often, but not always, the charitable organization will receive the benefit at some future point after the passing of the donor.

Planned giving generally allows for greater contributions than the donor could otherwise afford during his or her lifetime. For larger gifts, planned giving may provide lifetime income to the donor and can make the most of the gift while minimizing the impact on the donor’s estate.

Planned giving can be as simple as providing – most often in a will – for a specific item or gift to go to a specified organization. In that way, the executor of your estate will be able to enact your wishes by seeing that the funds or item (a piece of artwork or a vehicle, for example) is transferred appropriately as part of the settlement of your estate.

While real property could be conferred this way. too, Ohio has an additional option in the Transfer on Death Designation Affidavit. Previously, taking the form of a “transfer-on-death deed,” this document can be properly filed and recorded during the life of the donor and will allow the property to change hands by presenting evidence of the donor’s death to the county recorder, outside of and irrespective of any probate matter that is opened.

If your gift will be larger, you may benefit from a charitable gift annuity. These types of gifts may take several different forms. But, generally, these options will allow the donor to make an immediate donation that can provide a tax deduction. The organization then will invest the funds and pay an annualized benefit to the donor for his or her life. Once the donor passes, the remainder will go to the organization. Sometimes, funds will be pooled with those from other donors.

Charitable trusts are another way to give. Several options are available, depending on whether you would like to have the donation provide you with an income stream during your life, or whether you would like to provide an ongoing income stream for the organization with the residual to ultimately go to your heirs at some future point.

The bottom line is that planned giving is a terrific way to benefit your favorite causes and many options are open to you no matter how much you have to give. All it takes is, well, a little planning. And if you find yourself in need of some professional assistance, some larger charitable organizations can help with this directly, or a good financial planner can surely assist.

This article originally appeared as a column for the Cleveland Jewish News.