August marks National Make a Will Month, a time dedicated to promoting the importance of estate planning and leaving a lasting legacy. While many associate estate planning with financial considerations – and others avoid any and all discussions about the inevitability of death -- it's essential to recognize its broader impact, especially on nonprofit organizations that rely on donations to carry out their invaluable work. 

In this blog post, we'll delve into the significance of estate planning, particularly in supporting organizations like America's VetDogs, even after you've passed away.

While most Americans diligently prepare for their retirement, a crucial facet of financial planning often goes overlooked – end-of-life or estate planning. Surprisingly, the focus on retirement doesn't translate equally to estate planning, as revealed by Caring.com’s 2023 Wills and Estate Planning Study. While approximately 6 out of 10 Americans have a retirement account, merely 1 out of 3 have taken the steps to establish an estate plan.

The significance of estate planning becomes more pronounced when considering the findings of the study:
A quarter of Americans, responding to the impact of inflation, now perceive a heightened necessity for estate planning.
A noteworthy shift is observed among younger Americans, with a 63% increase in those possessing an estate plan compared to the statistics of 2020. Additionally, more than 1 out of 3 individuals in this demographic acknowledge that inflation has spurred
a newfound appreciation for estate planning.
Among those without a will, a quarter express an unwavering reluctance to create one. Furthermore, more than 40% of respondents claim they would delay such preparations until their own life is under imminent threat.
Astonishingly, a staggering two-thirds of Americans lack any form of estate planning documentation.

Although the proportion of Americans with a comprehensive estate plan remains modest, a gradual shift in awareness is taking place, partly driven by the specter of inflation. This trend is underscored by the fact that a quarter of Americans specifically attribute their heightened interest in estate planning to the impact of inflation. Overall, an impressive 64% of Americans recognize the importance of having a will; paradoxically, only 34% have undertaken the necessary steps to craft
an estate plan.

The Power of Estate Planning: Continuing Support Beyond Your Lifetime
Estate planning is not solely about divvying up your assets; it's a comprehensive strategy to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled after you're gone. By creating a will, you have the power to determine how your possessions will be distributed, who will be responsible for your affairs, and what impact your legacy will have on the causes close to your heart.

When you include nonprofit organizations like Guide Dog Foundation in your estate planning, you extend your support beyond your lifetime. By designating a portion of your estate to America's VetDogs, you're helping the organization continue its life-changing work long after you're gone. This type of giving provides stability and allows nonprofits to plan for the future with greater confidence.

Leaving a Legacy of Impact
Creating a will that includes charitable giving showcases your commitment to causes you believe in. It's a way to leave a legacy of impact that reflects your values and aspirations. By aligning your estate plan with your philanthropic goals, you're ensuring that the causes you hold dear receive the necessary resources to thrive and continue to make a difference.

Steps to Include Nonprofits in Your Estate Plan
1. Consult Professionals: Estate planning can be intricate, so it's advisable to consult with legal and financial experts who can guide you through the process.
2. Identify Your Intentions: Determine the nonprofits you want to support and outline your specific intentions for your gift.
3. Choose the Right Assets: Decide which assets you would like to allocate to charitable giving, whether it's a percentage of your estate, specific properties, stocks, or other valuable items.
4. Update Regularly: Life circumstances change, so it's crucial to update your estate plan periodically to ensure it aligns with your current wishes and financial situation.
5. Communicate Your Intentions: Inform your loved ones and the nonprofits you're supporting about your intentions. This transparency can help avoid confusion and ensure your wishes are carried out as you intended.

National Make a Will Month serves as a reminder that estate planning is not just about finances—it's a way to ensure that your values and contributions live on. By incorporating nonprofit organizations like America's VetDogs into your estate plan, you're creating a legacy that transcends your lifetime, leaving a positive impact on the causes that matter most to you. Through thoughtful estate planning, you have the power to continue supporting these invaluable organizations and the individuals they serve long into the future.

For more information about planned giving and our Heritage Society, please visit https://vetdogs.plannedgiving.org/ and contact Dawn Dioguardo, Director of Development, at Dawn.Dioguardo@vetdogs.org or call 631-930-9007.