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Estate Question - Charitable Contribution


TUG Member
Jun 6, 2005
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My mother wrote a 3 page letter two days before she died. She wrote a statement to give a certain amount to her church. I am the successor trustee of the estate. I asked the attorney about giving the money to the church, and he said it can't be done as it was not included in her will or the trust document. I can't believe it when it is in her own handwriting and she was of sound mind.

Is that true? He said he would check to see if I can disclaim the amount, but he has not called me back. I hate to call again, as even a 5-minute call ends up costing too much money.


TUG Review Crew: Elite
TUG Member
Jun 6, 2005
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Her note is not legally binding, so the IRS will not allow an estate tax deduction for the contribution.

This is not necessarily a bad thing - - if her estate is under $2 million you're not paying any federal estate tax regardless.

If you're the only heir and you want to honor her wishes, take your inheritance and make the charitable gift yourself and you can deduct it on your personal income tax return like any other gift.

If you're not the only heir you can suggest that the other beneficiaries (your siblings?) do the same, but you can't make them do it. If they don't want to go along then they must receive their inheritance in full and it's a matter of conscience whether you want to pay the entire amount out of pocket (and income tax deductible as above) or only what you see as your share.