How to List a Charity as Your Beneficiary

By Brenna Davis

A "beneficiary" is a person or entity, such as a nonprofit organization, that receives money or other property from an estate. Beneficiaries are listed in a will, and the money they receive may come from a life insurance policy, retirement account or other kinds of assets. If you have a large estate and plan to leave most or all of your estate to a charity, it would be prudent to consult a lawyer to help you draft a will that would-be heirs won't be able to successfully challenge.

Step 1

Research the full name of the charity, and identify the city and state where the organization's principal office is located. This will ensure that the charity is listed correctly in your financial documents. Notify the charity that you are listing it as a beneficiary. Many charities provide specific instructions on how to do this, and the organization may list a specific contact person on its website.

Step 2

List the charity as a beneficiary in your will. If you are leaving personal property or money to the charity, specify the items or amount of money you are leaving. If you are bequeathing a life insurance policy or IRA account to the charity, you'll need to modify your account documents with the custodial institution that holds the account. However, also listing the bequest in your will can help ensure that the charity receives the gift. Notify the executor of your will that you've named the charity a beneficiary, and let him know where a copy of your will can be found upon your death.

Get a free, confidential bankruptcy evaluation. Learn More

Step 3

Contact the institution that issued an insurance policy or other financial asset you wish to leave to a charity. The institution will provide you with paperwork to add a beneficiary. Fill out the paperwork in full and attach any documentation required by the institution. Return the paperwork and request a copy of the paperwork once it has been accepted and filed. Check the paperwork to verify its accuracy.

Get a free, confidential bankruptcy evaluation. Learn More
How to List Cash in a Last Will & Testament


Related articles

Can the Executor of a Will Spend the Money Any Way He Wants?

When someone dies and leaves a will, the will instructs how the deceased's property should be distributed. Likely, it will name the individual responsible for managing the estate, the estate’s personal representative, or executor. The executor has a duty to prudently manage the estate so that debts are paid and each beneficiary receives his due distribution.

How to Name a Trust as Successor Beneficiary of an Inherited IRA

When someone creates an Individual Retirement Account, she names a beneficiary to inherit whatever remains in the account at her death. Depending on the IRA plan document or the rules of the custodian, the IRA owner or the IRA owner's beneficiary may be able to name a successor beneficiary for any remaining account balance at the primary beneficiary's death. This can be an individual or individuals, the decedent's estate or a trust. One advantage to naming a trust as successor beneficiary is control over how and when distributed assets will be paid out to heirs. For example, if, as a primary beneficiary, you want your child to receive your undistributed IRA inheritance, but don't want her to have access to those funds until age 21, the IRA account will be distributed to the trust based on IRS distribution rules, however, the trust document will specify that the trustee should not distribute those funds to your child until she reaches age 21.

How to Divide Possessions When Making a Will

One of the purposes of a will is to ensure your assets are transferred to the people of your choice. Not all property you benefit from during your life may be transferred by a will. If you are a beneficiary of a trust, you cannot bequeath the trust property. If you co-own property in a joint tenancy or tenancy by entirety, you cannot leave your rights in the property to a beneficiary. If you own property as a life tenant, you cannot leave that property to a beneficiary. What property remains can be transferred through a will.

Related articles

How to Write Bequests in a Will

A bequest is a provision of your will that directs a particular sum of money or item of property to be given to a ...

How to Find Out If You Are a Beneficiary in a Final Will When a Relative Dies

During a person's lifetime, her will is private; she determines who views the document. After she dies, the will ...

How to Pass Financial Information to Heirs Upon Death

The period immediately following the death of a loved one is often emotionally overwhelming for family and friends. In ...

How to Change the Beneficiary of a 529 Plan

A 529 plan is either a pre-paid tuition plan or a savings plan maintained by a state or a school to help defray ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED