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Leaving a Legacy 101


We haven’t been shy celebrating the success of our communities’ Life & Legacy program.

Over the last five years, the Life & Legacy program has had a tremendous impact on our community, really transforming the philanthropic landscape and culture while providing a strong foundation for our community’s future.

By the end of our fifth year, our community institutions have secured almost 540 legacy commitments from 385 donors. That collective donor base has made commitments that will result in financial support for our community at a projected $20.5+ million!

As we roll-out the next step, Life and Legacy 2.0, we are excited to continue the education on what the nuts and bolts are of leaving that legacy. If national trends hold true, over 90% of these gifts will come from a donor’s will.

Your will is an important way of looking after the future of your family and friends. After taking care of loved ones, for many people, the next priority is leaving a gift to a charity. But what is the best way to go about doing this?

While the Life and Legacy 2.0 program continues to bring these charitable aspirations to fruition, we thought it would be a great start to break down what exactly this all looks like.

What exactly is a Legacy?

The dictionary defines a legacy as money or property bequeathed to another in their will. A will ensures your wishes are carried out.

Many people don’t realize that nonprofits are heavily reliant on these permanent gifts. While most of our donors support multitudes of charities throughout their lifespan, many don’t consider the importance of naming them in their will to continue their support. That’s why it’s important to take action now, as nobody knows what tomorrow brings and Richmond Jewish Foundation is here to help.

Preparation is everything

If you don’t prepare your will properly, you will have no control over what happens to your money and other assets after you pass away. The government will determine how your assets are distributed, with the possible consequence that what you leave behind passes to beneficiaries you would not have selected.

You should seek legal assistance when drafting a will to make sure everything is in order and as you wish. We are available if you want to talk with us about finding an advisor; there are plenty of properly trained people out there (you could also ask family and friends for a recommendation).

The size of your Legacy doesn’t matter

As we’ve mentioned, legacies are a very important source of income for many charities, and it doesn’t matter what size your gift is, rest assured it will be put to good use, greatly appreciated and combined with gifts from others.

Some people believe that only wealthy people leave money to charity when they die, however, this isn’t the case. Without the generosity of people leaving a legacy in their will, many of the charities we know and support today wouldn’t exist.

Finding a cause and making a will

Writing a will is relatively inexpensive and easy when drafted by a properly qualified professional and as we’ve said, the gift you make can be as small or large as you like. You may have a favorite cause, or are close to a certain charity because they helped you or somebody you love.

There are charities here in Richmond, nationally, and in Israel helping children, the elderly and infirm – whatever your passion or area of interest, there is a nonprofit that could benefit greatly from your gift. At RJF we can help you create a permanent endowment with as little as $5000. Funded at this level, your fund will create an annual gift of $200 to your favorite charity, and as the fund’s balance grows the size of the gift grows.

Changing a Will to include a charity

If you want to leave a gift to charity but have already made a will, that is not a problem, there is a simple way you can change it: by writing a codicil. A codicil is a document used to make minor changes to a will that has already been written. If you already have a will and an attorney, ask about amending your will and they will take you through the process while you decide which charity or charities you want to include in your legacy gift.

How RJF fits in?

The core of our mission here at RJF is to be a primary, trusted and expert resource for planned giving and endowments. For the entire existence of the Jewish people, we have come together and persevered through unimaginable hardships.

To be where we are today, is a blessing. Making a legacy gift is one step to ensure that the Jewish people, and our culture, continues to grow and thrive.

We at RJF want you to experience the good feelings of having a well-considered and well-crafted will (or other comprehensive estate planning document).

We encourage you to take care of this very important matter. And to help you, we offer a secure online interactive “wills guide” which can be accessed at rjfoundation.giftlegacy.com/?pageID=99. We can also be reached at Jesse@rjfoundation.org or (804) 545-8656.

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