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Your Estate Plans Might Be Missing Something

If you are taking another look at your existing estate plans, or just starting your planning journey, be sure the following items—in addition to a will—are included to make things easier for you and your loved ones.

Be sure you have:

  1. A high-level overview that lays out the basics of your finances and plans. Include:
    • Where to find your will and other documents, and who the key people are—your powers of attorney agents, executors, or personal representatives
    • Financial assets (where accounts are held and who owns them)
    • Insurance coverage (property/casualty, health, life)
    • Property and vehicle information
    • Regular household bills that you pay
  2. A detailed description of your finances (account numbers, contacts at financial institutions, etc.).
  3. A personal property memorandum that is often referenced by your will and states how you want property distributed and/or sold. This allows you to assign sentimental or valuable assets to specific people without having to change your will if you change your mind.
  4. A plan for your pets to ensure that your furry friends are taken care of. A legally binding pet trust can be created, or you can make provisions in your will for how you want your pets cared for in your absence.
  5. Your digital estate plans, which includes online account details.
  6. Advance directives, powers of attorney, and other end-of-life planning tools to communicate your basic wishes. Add personal messages and detailed plans for your funeral, memorial, and other specifics.
  7. An ethical will, which is your opportunity to hand down your values in a document or video. Think of it as a personal record of your life—how you have lived it and how you want to inspire others.

No Estate Plans? Start Here

Estate planning is a highly personal process of deciding how your assets will be distributed after your lifetime. Consider these questions first, then meet with your estate planning attorney to begin putting your wishes into place.

  • Who will receive your home? Car? Stocks? Jewelry?
  • Who will take care of your children if they are not yet of legal age?
  • Do you have relatives, even children, who should not receive assets?
  • Are there charities you would like to benefit from your estate, like Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK)?

Explore Your Legacy at MSK

Wherever you are in the process, your estate plans are a powerful way to show your desire to drive lifesaving advances in cancer research and care. Please contact the Office of Planned Giving at 800-688-1827 or plannedgiving@mskcc.org to learn more about including MSK in your future plans.

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

An individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust, or retirement plan.

I bequeath to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a New York nonprofit corporation having a principal place of business at 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, Federal Tax ID #13-1924236, ____percent of my total estate (or $_____, or other property) to be used or disposed of as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in its sole discretion deems appropriate.

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor-advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to MSK or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate, or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property, or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to MSK as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to MSK as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and MSK where you agree to make a gift to MSK and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

A tax imposed at one's death on the transfer of most types of property. Currently federal estate taxes are assessed in 2022 on estates worth more than $11.2 million. The maximum estate tax rate is 40 percent. Some states also impose taxes at death that vary depending on state law.

A written legal instrument created by a grantor for the benefit of him/herself (during life) or others (during life or at death).

A revocable trust established by a grantor during his or her lifetime in which the grantor transfers some or all of his or her property into the trust.

Equity or debt instruments, typically shares listed on a stock exchange, which can be readily bought or sold.