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No kids. Who do we put in the will?
Old 11-26-2023, 12:06 AM   #1
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No kids. Who do we put in the will?

We recently FIRE'd and are thinking about getting a will written. We are mid-50's with no kids and a modest lifestyle. I expect we would be leaving an estate in the high seven figures, low eight figures. The only thing we have come up with so far is finding 20 things to leave 5% each. We would like to include the two kids (now 5 & 6 years old) who live across the street from us and our four nieces/nephews (12 to 20 years old). In addition I would like to start two or three scholarships to a local trade school. That is nine things (45%) so far. What else? Since we just started having this conversation I am very open minded and would love to hear your suggestions. Thanks!
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Old 11-26-2023, 05:05 AM   #2
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I would just pick some causes and/or churches that you really believe in, and leave it to them. Make sure the charities/institutions are big enough that they have enough administrative staff to handle the receiving of your estate, and even more importantly, will be able to do something constructive with it. Funny as it sounds, tiny "niche" or boutique charities may not be able to expand very easily to absorb a gift of a couple of million dollars.
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Old 11-26-2023, 05:11 AM   #3
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All good thoughts that you have. We also have no kids but have left a good amount in trust for the care of my disabled brother and the rest to seven nieces and nephews split equally.

But why "20 things at 5%"? Nothing magic about that number IMO. You could do 25% to four disbursements or any number.
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Old 11-26-2023, 05:17 AM   #4
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The only thing we have come up with so far is finding 20 things to leave 5% each.
I wouldn’t do that. I’d leave more to less, maybe even one (other than the few individuals you mentioned you care about). Imagine what a large sum would do to a particular cause you care about. That scholarship could be a permanent endowment and send many people to trade school. A small organization that is doing good could be rocketed to a very high level, very quickly. It would take a bit of work to figure it out, but my point is to make a bigger impact on something you really care about rather than spreading it thin on multiple things, most being something you’re just “interested” in.

Best wishes. What a nice problem to have.
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Old 11-26-2023, 05:20 AM   #5
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I would just pick some causes and/or churches that you really believe in, and leave it to them. Make sure the charities/institutions are big enough that they have enough administrative staff to handle the receiving of your estate, and even more importantly, will be able to do something constructive with it. Funny as it sounds, tiny "niche" or boutique charities may not be able to expand very easily to absorb a gift of a couple of million dollars.
Good points. However I was executor of my uncle's very large estate. The dozen small charities where he gave under $100k were ecstatic and thanked the estate profusely. Handwritten letters and phone calls.

He also left $2mm to a large charity that honors a famous nun from India: crickets. Not even a form letter of acknowledgement. Nothing.

I guess they didn't need the money and you wonder if he'd have been better doing the reverse.
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Old 11-26-2023, 05:27 AM   #6
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Good point. There's no reason OP can't extend the list with smaller bequests. I will say that it's wise to call the small charity first...when I did, I learned that the founder had died and the charity was in the process of closing, which was not indicated on their web site!

The charity that didn't even acknowledge the bequest is beyond belief. You would have expected a form letter at the very least. I guess the estate should consider itself lucky they didn't get a letter of complaint that the bequest was a mere administrative nuisance, since the charity is lavishly funded already!

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Good points. However I was executor of my uncle's very large estate. The dozen small charities where he gave under $100k were ecstatic and thanked the estate profusely. Handwritten letters and phone calls.

.
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Old 11-26-2023, 05:42 AM   #7
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We're in this situation. Here's what we are doing.

1/2 of the estate to the extended family, specifically named per-stirpes. There are enough there that nobody will get a blow-out inheritance.

1/2 of the estate to our Donor Advised Fund (DAF).

Here's the great thing about a DAF: you can have a legacy plan. Once both advisors die, the legacy plan goes into action. We've chosen to name about 7 charities that get 1 to 3 percent of the plan per year, until it exhausts. It is a kind of endowment. These charities will get something that won't blow them away, but also something that will last at least a few years.

The biggest benefit is we don't have to change the will to change the charities. Each year DW and I update the list as our connections with them strengthen or weaken. Very easy to do.
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Old 11-26-2023, 05:49 AM   #8
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No kids here. We have our niece and nephew in for 50% each.

I would like to include a charity or 2, but OP's 20 entities at 5% each is a bit too much for me.
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Old 11-26-2023, 07:03 AM   #9
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We're in this situation. Here's what we are doing.

1/2 of the estate to the extended family, specifically named per-stirpes. There are enough there that nobody will get a blow-out inheritance.

1/2 of the estate to our Donor Advised Fund (DAF).

Here's the great thing about a DAF: you can have a legacy plan. Once both advisors die, the legacy plan goes into action. We've chosen to name about 7 charities that get 1 to 3 percent of the plan per year, until it exhausts. It is a kind of endowment. These charities will get something that won't blow them away, but also something that will last at least a few years.

The biggest benefit is we don't have to change the will to change the charities. Each year DW and I update the list as our connections with them strengthen or weaken. Very easy to do.

DW and I are doing something very similar with our DAF at Fidelity. Most of our beneficiary designations have myself, DW, and/or a sibling as primary beneficiary, and the DAF as secondary. We're all doing well financially, so may not need the money when the account owner passes. If so, we can just disclaim our inheritance (I think I used the correct term here) and it will pass to the secondary, which is the DAF.


Also, I see no problem with the OP spreading their money around. E.g., a $1M divided 20 ways, is 50k per charity. For many small, local charities, that may be the largest amount they have ever received and be a game-changer for them.
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Old 11-26-2023, 07:12 AM   #10
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We have a county community foundation that funds many things on different levels that benefit either the community or students of the county. Some people have their name tied to certain things, mostly scholarships. The great thing about it is that 90% of the staff are volunteers, and the paid ones are low salary office folks. One of the original founders passed away several years back, everyone knew he had money... but you really wouldn't know it. He was a high school teacher, and donated his entire salary to the schools sports programs every year. When he died, his wife gave half of his estate to the foundation.
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Old 11-26-2023, 07:22 AM   #11
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I just rewrote my will. Everything is split evenly between my husband's siblings. My only sibling died right before my husband died. If a sibling dies before me, their share is split evenly between their children. I just wanted them to have a cushion to last out their long lives because, despite my husband's death, their family tends to last until their late 90s. I think it will help out a couple of them and the rest probably don't need it so much.
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Old 11-26-2023, 08:20 AM   #12
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we have a couple of target organizations for the will, and DW will probably do some QCDs to the same organizations when it comes to RMDs.
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Old 11-26-2023, 09:02 AM   #13
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We’re giving a big chunk to four charities we support, but we’re also giving a larger chunk to our nieces and nephews. The rub is by the time we pass (if naturally), they’ll probably all be FI or close to it - but more can’t hurt?
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Old 11-26-2023, 09:14 AM   #14
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But why "20 things at 5%"? Nothing magic about that number IMO. You could do 25% to four disbursements or any number.
It was 2AM when I posted that. I should have said that we were going to give out 20 shares of the money. Maybe a charity will get 6 shares for 30% total. We don't know. Thanks to those who have discussed DAFs. We will check into that.
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Old 11-26-2023, 09:36 AM   #15
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We have a county community foundation that funds many things on different levels that benefit either the community or students of the county. Some people have their name tied to certain things, mostly scholarships. The great thing about it is that 90% of the staff are volunteers, and the paid ones are low salary office folks. One of the original founders passed away several years back, everyone knew he had money... but you really wouldn't know it. He was a high school teacher, and donated his entire salary to the schools sports programs every year. When he died, his wife gave half of his estate to the foundation.
This. Community foundations are amazing. https://cof.org/page/community-foundation-locator
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Old 11-26-2023, 09:42 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by rmcelwee View Post
We recently FIRE'd and are thinking about getting a will written. We are mid-50's with no kids and a modest lifestyle. I expect we would be leaving an estate in the high seven figures, low eight figures. The only thing we have come up with so far is finding 20 things to leave 5% each. We would like to include the two kids (now 5 & 6 years old) who live across the street from us and our four nieces/nephews (12 to 20 years old). In addition I would like to start two or three scholarships to a local trade school. That is nine things (45%) so far. What else? Since we just started having this conversation I am very open minded and would love to hear your suggestions. Thanks!
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Old 11-26-2023, 09:43 AM   #17
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Giving scholarships to the younger generation sounds wonderful. Pay it forward, good for you. Any other charities you like would benefit from whatever you donate.

Enjoy and live your life along the way.
Getting a will written is a good idea at any age.
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Old 11-26-2023, 09:49 AM   #18
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We are the same, we have 2 charities for everything: Southeastern Guide Dogs and Shriners Hospitals for Children. We have no family that would not squander it to leave it to.

Simply liquidate everything and give it all to them in equal portions. Could not be easier.
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Old 11-26-2023, 10:03 AM   #19
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No kids here also. We plan updating our will after the New Year. Currently leaving 60% to charities that we currently support. The other 40% were going to nieces, nephews, wife's sister and a former employee our ours who has been a loyal friend for over 30 years. We will not include nieces anymore due their disrespect for their parents and us. Still love them but can never reward bad behavior.
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Old 11-26-2023, 10:05 AM   #20
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No kids. All going to charity. One of which is a perpetual scholarship fund. That’s the one we feel most proud of.
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