Are Your Heirs Stuck with Your Charity Pledges?
Generally speaking, if you promise to give something of value to a charity, that promise constitutes a legal debt. There are nuances and exceptions, but your death is not normally one of them.
Should you pass away leaving an unfulfilled, promised charitable donation to a nonprofit or charity, your heirs will have to deal with it in one fashion or another. Here is a quick rundown of what you need to know about leaving money to a charity and how to prevent problems in the future.
Is It a Legal Contract?
To be legally enforceable, your charitable pledge must contain all five of the elements of a legal contract, listed here:
- Offer and acceptance – means you offered to make a future gift to a charity and the charity accepted that offer.
- Consideration – refers to something called “exchange of value.” With a charitable pledge this usually means that you promise to make a gift and the charity promises to use that gift for some specific named purpose.
- Legal intent – simply means that everything about the contract has to be legal. If you pledge a gift and the charity promises to use it to commit a crime, the pledge is not enforceable.
- Competent parties – confirms that both you and the charity are legally capable of entering into a contract.
- Legal form – means the contract must follow all appropriate laws and guidelines, including that it be in writing if that is a requirement in your state. (For more see: Contract Requirements.)
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