Philanthropy – What is it?

Philanthropy has been defined as “the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes” or “an altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement, usually manifested by donations of money, property, or work to needy persons, by endowment of institutions of learning and hospitals, and by generosity to other socially useful purposes”.

How often do you see in the media details of an acrimonious estate dispute the consequences of which would cause the deceased to turn in their grave with disapproval.

Family members sometimes challenge a testators gifts to charities on the basis that there should have been more provision for them.

There is however a move in modern society away from leaving your mark on the world after you go by passing on wealth to family (the family empire or family legacy or blood line model) to leaving a legacy by supporting charities (the charitable legacy model).

Many parents have a view that their moral obligation to their children is satisfied when they send them off into the world adequately armed to make their own choices. Those parents, as new empty nesters, sometimes reflect on their remaining purpose in life.

Many such people are choosing to make a difference in the world by gifting a part of their wealth to charities.

There are two simple ways to achieve this:

  1. Leave bequests (gifts) in your will to charities of your choice.
  2. Gift money to charities during your lifetime.

An advantage of the first option is that you retain control of your wealth until you pass away in case your circumstances and needs change.

A disadvantage is that you have little control over claims against your estate and the eventual outcome of those disputes could be a distribution of you estate other than that which you intended.

If however you gift money during your lifetime that money no longer falls into your estate to be fought over, and you have the benefit of seeing the good your donations can bring while you are alive to appreciate that good.

Most of us practice philanthropy to some degree on a regular basis giving donations to various charities even if those donations are only small.

Now is the time to step up your philanthropy and make a commitment in your life to leave the world a better place than you found it.

For advice on wills and estate planning incorporating charitable outcomes or for advice on how to make gifts during your lifetime talk to our commercial lawyers at McLaughlins Lawyers.

Ian Kennedy – Managing Partner Mclaughlins Lawyers.