Because bequests do not take effect until death, a donor retains control and use of the property during life. Bequests may be of a specific dollar amount, a percentage of an estate, or the residue of an estate. They may be designated for a particular purpose or left unrestricted, used to establish or add to an endowed fund (only income is used and principal is held in perpetuity) or a current fund (both income and principal may be used), and made to honor the name of the donor or memorialize the name of a loved one.
Bequests can be made through a simple paragraph in a will. A specific request (usually a stated dollar amount or percentage) can me made in the following manner:
“I give and bequeath to the Trustees of Foxcroft Academy, a not for profit corporation established under the laws of Maine and situated in the Town of Dover-Foxcroft, the sum of $__________ to be assigned by the Trustees to benefit the school as they think most desirable…(or to be used for the following purposes…).”
A Residuary Bequest names Foxcroft Academy as the residuary beneficiary, to receive the remainder of the estate after specific devises have been made and all debts, taxes and other expenses have been paid.
A Contingent Bequest enables you to designate the Trustees of Foxcroft Academy as an alternate beneficiary. In which case, it would receive the bequest only if your primary beneficiary(ies) did not survive you.
A charitable gift by bequest usually provides a tax savings because the gift is wholly deductible from the adjusted gross estate. A charitable bequest often places the taxable portion of the estate in a lower tax bracket. Because people often underestimate the extent of these taxes, a thorough study should be undertaken by an attorney or financial advisor when the will is created.