Who gets the house? What about the jewelry and antiques? As you approach retirement, you have likely wrestled with these types of estate planning questions—especially if you won’t be leaving behind any family members.


Many Americans put off creating a will, according to the biennial Health and Retirement Study supported by the National Institute on Aging and carried out by the University of Michigan. Cited by the New York Times in an article about wills and trusts among childless baby boomers, the study reveals only three quarters of the population aged 75+ had taken this important estate planning step.


Over the past few decades, families have grown smaller and more people have decided not to have children. That means that older people are facing a unique set of challenges when making a will and determining their beneficiaries.


“The dynamic has changed pretty significantly for the generation of baby boomers,” said Bob Carter, chairman of the board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. “The option of doing something charitably significant with their estates is a change.”


When determining where—or to whom—you will leave your estate, it’s important that you take a few things into consideration. Which organizations share your values—or played a significant role in your life? Which organizations reflect your values and interests?


You may want to consider planning gifts to the organizations or institutions you have had a relationship with over the years. That way, you will have had an opportunity to observe how they handle money, make use of donations and communicate. This can help you to feel confident about putting this organization in your will.


Source: “In Estate Planning, Family Isn’t Always First, New York Times, May 2014


Have you considered making a charitable donation in your will? Share your thoughts with us.