Bequests are very flexible. They can be used to ensure that the donor’s annual charitable contributions to Bear Yuba Land Trust programs continue; to place conservation easements on land; or to make a special gift that will enhance the Trust’s ability to achieve its mission in the future.
Some bequests and/or revocable trusts designate funds “to be used in such a manner as the Board of Directors of BYLT shall, in its discretion, determine.” Others restrict their bequest for specific properties, or with respect to a particular program or conservation mission.
Bequests come in several types. Your bequest to BYLT could be a particular dollar amount, a percentage of your estate, or even a particular asset or group of assets. Bequests will be distributed after all debts, taxes and expenses of your estate have been paid.
If you own real estate or other assets of uncertain value, that property would be appraised in order to assess the potential tax liability the estate will face. We also need to understand your desires for the future conservation and use of the property. One option to consider is a Gift of Land with Reserved Life Estates.
A specific bequest is an outright gift of money, stocks or bonds, land, tangible personal property or other assets. Suggested bequest wording is:
“I give, devise, and bequeath to Bear Yuba Land Trust, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation (TIN 68-0256981) with offices in Grass Valley, California, the sum of $____________ (or describe any real or personal property), to be used for its general purposes.”
Specific Bequests of a Conservation Easement
If you intend to bequeath a conservation easement, we need to determine whether the easement bequest conforms to board policy, and discuss what restrictions will apply to your property. BYLT will then draft the easement for you and your attorney to review. Important technical details must be included when drafting conservation restrictions in order to fulfill IRS deductibility requirements; and donors should be aware of the Trust’s stewardship endowment policy for the management and enforcement of the easement. The suggested wording for bequests of conservation or agricultural easements is:
“In the event I do not make such a conveyance [describe the intended conservation or agricultural easement here] during my lifetime, I hereby bequeath unto Bear Yuba Land Trust, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation (TIN 68-0256981) with offices in Grass Valley, California, the development rights and conservation easements in certain real property described as follows: [the Legal Description of Protected Property should be attached]. The development rights and conservation easements to be conveyed shall be substantially in the form set forth in the Grant of Development Rights and Conservation Easements attached to this will as Exhibit [number exhibit here], and incorporated herein by reference as if fully set forth.
I further bequeath to Bear Yuba Land Trust, the sum of $(________) as a stewardship endowment for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing the conservation easement on the property conveyed pursuant to the preceding paragraph.”
In a residuary bequest, the donor leaves all or part of the balance of his or her estate to a beneficiary after all of the specific bequests have been satisfied. The suggested wording for a residuary bequest is:
“I give, devise, and bequeath to Bear Yuba Land Trust, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation (TIN 68-0256981) with offices in Grass Valley, California, all [or ____%] of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, to be used for its general purposes.”
A contingent bequest provides for the disposition of the estate if one or more of the named beneficiaries fails to survive the donor. It can be used in conjunction with a specific bequest or a residuary bequest. The suggested wording for a contingent bequest is:
“If any of the above-named beneficiaries should predecease me, I hereby bequeath his or her share to Bear Yuba Land Trust, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation (TIN 68-0256981) with offices in Grass Valley, California, to be used for its general purposes.”
Revocable Living Trusts
Some donors prefer to plan the distribution of their estates through revocable living trusts. Like wills, donors can change living trusts while he/she is still alive, allowing him/her to retain complete control over his/her assets during his/her lifetime. However, living trusts have several advantages over wills. If the Living Trust is properly funded, the trustee can distribute much or all of the donor’s estate without the expense or delay of probate. If the donor owns real estate that requires management, such as a farm, the trustee can make management decisions should the donor become incapacitated, thereby avoiding the complexities of a guardianship.
Although living trusts are simple to establish, they may in some cases be more time-consuming to set up than a will, but the beneficiaries of the estate will realize significant cost savings in the end. Because the donor usually reserves the right to revoke or modify a living trust, the donor may not realize any immediate income tax benefits. However, if properly drafted, a living trust can, like a will, save estate taxes at one’s death.